The Subtle, Powerful Way Jordin Sparks Joined The NFL Protests

Carol Kuruvilla

Singer Jordin Sparks may not have taken the knee during Monday night’s NFL game in Arizona, but she managed to make a powerful statement nonetheless. 

The “American Idol” winner was scheduled to sing the National Anthem during a game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals. The Dallas team knelt down before the anthem and stood while Sparks sang, and the Arizona players stood and linked arms. 

Sparks, on the other hand, stood tall throughout her performance. But there was one small detail that could shed a light on what the 28-year-old singer was thinking. 

Scribbled in black on her hand were the words Prov. 31:8-9. It’s a reference from the book of Proverbs, in the Bible. 

Singer Jordin Sparks performs the National Anthem before the start of the the NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Dallas Cowboys at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 25, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. 

The verse is part of a larger exhortation given to a King named Lemuel by his mother. Some scholars believe Lemuel was another name for King Solomon, the famously wealthy and wise son of the Biblical hero, King David.

In the passage, the mother offers advice about what is required of a just leader. She urges the king to open his mouth and speak up for the poor and oppressed, those who unjustly accused of doing wrong and are unable to defend themselves.

The verse reads: 

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.

The Rev. Jacqueline Lewis, senior minister of New York City’s Middle Collegiate Church, told HuffPost that the text invites those who are powerful to use their voices to speak up for those on the margins. 

“In a season in which we yearn for fresh starts, in a time [during the High Holidays] when our Jewish family turns its face toward repentance, all of us who claim faith in G-d might want to inscribe this text on our hearts,” Lewis told HuffPost. “As a Christian minister who follows the teachings of Rabbi Jesus, this text reminds me that my faith is not an individual experience. My faith calls me to work for the Shalom of all of the people on all of the earth.”

Sparks is a Christian who has shared her testimony in public before. She has another Bible verse tattooed on her wrist ― 1 Timothy ‭4:12‬, which encourages young people to be an example to all Christians. 

 Watch Sparks’ performance at Monday night’s game in the video below. 

UPDATE: This article has been updated with a quote from the Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.