|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 2. - Let my prayer be set forth (or, "established") before thee as incense; i.e. with the regularity of the incense, and with its acceptableness. And the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. The hands were "lifted up" in prayer, which was reckoned a serf of sacrifice (Hosea 14:2).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense,.... Which was offered every morning on the altar of incense, at which time the people were praying, Exodus 30:1; and was an emblem of it, even of pure, holy, and fervent prayer; which being offered on the altar Christ, which sanctifies every gift, and by him the High Priest; through whom every sacrifice is acceptable unto God; and through whose blood and righteousness, and the sweet incense of his mediation and intercession, it becomes fragrant and a sweet odour to the Lord; and being directed to him, it goes upwards, is regarded by him, and continues before him as sweet incense; which is what the psalmist prays for; see Malachi 1:11;
and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice; the burnt sacrifice of the evening, according to Ben Melech, the lamb slain every evening; or else the minchah, as the word is; the meat, or rather the bread offering made of fine flour, with oil and frankincense on it, which went along with the former, Exodus 29:38; and so the Targum,
"as the sweet gift offered in the evening.''
This only is mentioned, as being put for both the morning and the evening sacrifice; or because the incense was offered in the morning, from which it is distinguished: or it may be, as Kimchi thinks, this psalm was composed in the evening; and so the inscription in the Syriac version is,
"a psalm of David, when he meditated the evening service.''
Or because this was the last sacrifice of the day; there was no other after it, as Aben Ezra observes; and the most acceptable; to which may be added, that this was the hour for prayer, Acts 3:1. Wherefore "lifting up of the hands" was a prayer gesture, and a very ancient one both among Jews and Gentiles (x); Aristotle (y) says, all men, when we pray, lift up our hands to heaven; and it is put for that itself, 1 Timothy 2:8; and is desired to be, like that, acceptable unto God; as it is when the heart is lifted up with the hands, and prayer is made in the name and faith of Christ.
(x) Vid. Barthii Animadv. in Claudian. ad Rufin. l. 2. v. 205. (y) De Mundo, c. 6. Vid. Plutarch. in Vita Camilli. "Sustulit ad sidera palmas", Virgil. Aeneid. 2. so Ovid. Fasti, l. 3.
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