|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
141:1-4 Make haste unto me. Those that know how to value God's gracious presence, will be the more fervent in their prayers. When presented through the sacrifice and intercession of the Saviour, they will be as acceptable to God as the daily sacrifices and burnings of incense were of old. Prayer is a spiritual sacrifice, it is the offering up the soul and its best affections. Good men know the evil of tongue sins. When enemies are provoking, we are in danger of speaking unadvisedly. While we live in an evil world, and have such evil hearts, we have need to pray that we may neither be drawn nor driven to do any thing sinful. Sinners pretend to find dainties in sin; but those that consider how soon sin will turn into bitterness, will dread such dainties, and pray to God to take them out of their sight, and by his grace to turn their hearts against them. Good men pray against the sweets of sin.
Verse 1. - Lord, I cry unto thee; make haste unto me. The need is pressing and urgent. God is therefore entreated to "hasten" (comp. Psalm 22:19; Psalm 31:2; Psalm 38:22; Psalm 40:17, etc.). Give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee (comp. Psalm 102:2).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Lord, I cry unto thee,.... With great earnestness, importunity, and fervency, being in distress; and knowing vain was the help of man, and that none could deliver him but the Lord, and therefore continued crying unto him for help (w);
make haste unto me; which shows he was in a desperate condition; that he could not help himself, nor could any creature, only the Lord; and he was at a distance from him, as it seemed to him, and he delayed assistance; and therefore desires he would immediately draw nigh and be a present help in his time of need, and work speedy deliverance for him, his case requiring haste;
give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee; a request the psalmist frequently makes, not contenting himself with prayer, without desiring and looking for an answer to it.
(w) "Auxilium vocat, et duros conclamat agrestes", Virgil.
The Treasury of David
1 Lord, I cry unto thee, make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee.
2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
"Lord, I cry unto thee." This is my last resort: prayer never fails me. My prayer is painful and feeble, and worthy only to be called a cry; but it is a cry unto Jehovah, and this ennobles it. I have cried unto thee, I still cry to thee, and I always mean to cry to thee. To whom else could I go? What else can I do? Others trust to themselves, but I cry unto thee. The weapon of all prayer is one which the believer may always carry with him, and use in every time of need. "Make haste unto me." His case was urgent, and he pleaded that urgency. God's time is the best time, but when we are sorely pressed we may with holy importunity quicken the movements of mercy. In many cases, if help should come late, it would come too late; and we are permitted to pray against such a calamity. "Give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee." See how a second time he talks of crying: prayer had become his frequent, yea, his constant exercise: twice in a few words he says, "I cry; I cry." How he longs to be heard, and to be heard at once! There is a voice to the great Father in every cry, and groan, and tear of his children: he can understand what they mean when they are quite unable to express it. It troubles the spirit of the saints when they fear that no favourable ear is turned to their doleful cries' they cannot rest unless their "unto thee" is answered by an "unto me." When prayer is a man's only refuge, he is deeply distressed at the bare idea of his failing therein.
"That were a grief I could not bear,
Didst thou not hear and answer prayer;
But a prayer-hearing, answering God
Supports me under every load."
"Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense." As Incense is carefully prepared, kindled with holy fire, and devoutly presented unto God, so let my prayer be. We are not to look upon prayer as easy work requiring no thought, it needs to be "set forth"; what is more, it must be set forth "before the Lord," by a sense of his presence and a holy reverence for his name: neither may we regard all supplication as certain of divine acceptance, it needs to be set forth before the Lord "as incense," concerning the offering of which there were rules to be observed, otherwise it would be rejected of God. "And the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice." Whatever form his prayer might take his one desire was that it might be accepted of God. Prayer is sometimes presented without words by the very motions of our bodies' bended knees and lifted hands are the tokens of earnest, expectant prayer. Certainly work, or the lifting up of the hands in labour, is prayer if it be done in dependence upon God and for his glory: there is a hand-prayer as well as a heart-prayer, and our desire is that this may be sweet unto the Lord as the sacrifice of eventide. Holy hope, the lifting up of hands that hang down, is also a kind of worship: may it ever be acceptable with God. The Psalmist makes a bold request: he would have his humble cries and prayers to be as much regarded of the Lord as the appointed morning and evening sacrifices of the holy place. Yet the prayer is by no means too bold, for, after all, the spiritual is in the Lord's esteem higher than the ceremonial, and the calves of the lips are a truer sacrifice than the calves of the stall.
So far we have a prayer about prayer; we have a distinct supplication in Psalm 141:3-4.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ps 141:1-10. This Psalm evinces its authorship as the preceding, by its structure and the character of its contents. It is a prayer for deliverance from sins to which affliction tempted him, and from the enemies who caused it.
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