Set Forth as Incense
Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. ~Psalm 141:2
Psalm 141 was written by David when he was running from Absalom. David is filled with remorse during his exile from the kingdom. We see David’s prayer to God. He asks that his prayer be set forth before God as incense and the lifting up of his hands as the evening sacrifice. Let us see, this morning, how David gets a hold of God.
We see the problem.
David is at a low point in his life. He is a mighty king running for his life. He is on the wanted list. He has been betrayed by his son Absalom and his trusted counsellor, Ahithophel. He walks barefoot and in sackcloth as a demonstration of his sorrow. David cries many tears during his flight. He is broken in soul and spirit, and he describes himself as bones scattered at the grave’s mouth. He is so despondent that the nearness of death obsesses his thoughts. We might come to a place in life where we can also feel very low and despondent. Let us remember that there is no experience we will go through that is not found in the Bible.
We see the pictures.
David uses two colorful and powerful symbols to describe his prayer to God. First, he uses incense. Incense is noted for its smell and its smoke. Zacharias' duty in the temple involved offering incense during the time of prayer. In Revelation 8:3-4, incense is offered with the prayers of all saints. Our praying to God is to be pleasing to God. He loves to hear us pray. He loves to hear us pour out our hearts before Him. Second, he uses “the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” The Jews offered a lamb sacrifice in the morning (9am) and in the evening (3pm). The lamb symbolized the sacrificial death of Christ. The Jews lifted their hands up to God, representing that they would be accepted by God. Paul said that men should pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands. The picture presented here is an intense and sincere prayer that is acceptable before God.
We see the prayer.
David is praying. He is earnestly asking God to give ear to his cry. He asks the Lord to guard his spirit from rashness of speech and action. He asks that the Lord keep him from sin. He asks that God would use righteous men to correct him for any wrong that they see in him. He asks to be protected from being captured and taken. He prays that the those who are against him will be hindered from hurting him. He tells the Lord that his eyes are upon Him and that his entire trust is upon Him. Praying that pleases God is when our entire dependence is on Him. The ideas of incense and lifting up our hands demonstrate sincerity and that we mean business with God. It is asking for mercy and grace to help in time of need.
We see the product.
When we read 2 Samuel 15-19, we see the Lord making a way for David. Prayer is necessary for God to perfect holiness in us. Prayer is never to be approached lightly and flippantly but with earnestness. Our praying must be with heart. Our praying must be like we are in a trial, or God will send us trials to teach us to pray. There is no better teacher for prayer than coming to God in prayer. The lifting up of our hands has our eyes on the Lord for acceptance. Let your prayers be as incense before God. When you leave your prayer closet, the fragrance of prayer should be on you. Be earnest today in prayer.
Have a prayerful God morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Galatians 4-6