The song Exit (from The Joshua Tree by U2) repeatedly refers to "the hands of love." The full lyrics are below:

You know he got the cure
But then he went astray
He used to stay awake
To drive the dreams he had away.
He wanted to believe
In the hands of love.

His head it felt heavy
As he came across the land
A dog started cryin'
Like a broken-hearted man
At the howling wind
At the howling wind.

He went deeper into black
Deeper into white.
He could see the stars shine
Like nails in the night.

He felt the healing
Healing, healing, healing hands of love
Like the stars shiny, shiny from above.

A hand in the pocket
Fingering the steel
The pistol weighed heavy
And his heart he could feel was beating
Beating, beating, beating,
Oh my love, oh my love
Oh my love, oh my love.

So hands that build
Can also pull down
The hands of love.

What are the "hands of love" and why does the character in the song want to believe in them?

  • @Mithrandir Out of curiosity, are we no longer tagging specific albums? Is there a Meta post on how to tag song lyric questions? Aug 24, 2017 at 21:33
  • Also, can whoever downvoted explain why? Aug 24, 2017 at 21:33
  • I don't think we've ever tagged with albums, have we? I don't remember ever seeing an album tag before, aside from this one.
    – Mithical
    Aug 24, 2017 at 21:46
  • @Mithrandir That could actually be an interesting question for Meta, come to think of it - how we want to tag song lyrics questions. Aug 24, 2017 at 21:52

1 Answer 1


Hands of Love are often referred to God's care, blessing and love directed towards humanity (e.g. here or here). So Love is used as a synonym of God.

The lines can be interpreted as the protagonist, who is on the verge or already in the state of deep religious \ ideological psychosis, fanatic fervour. He is motivated and driven by better ideals, however his actions are going to be destructive.

  • Interesting... so his killing is motivated by fanaticism of some kind? Now that makes me wonder if there's any relation to The Troubles. Sep 1, 2018 at 15:00
  • I think they are somehow connected on the deep existential level, in Troubles the protagonist addresses with dignity to his offender about responsibility for a judgement & moral choice, which the latter, being just a conductor of superiors will, gave up to the higher authority.
    – Artem
    Sep 1, 2018 at 15:16

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