World Wide Study Bible

Study

a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary

Psalm 141

Prayer for Preservation from Evil

A Psalm of David.

1

I call upon you, O Lord; come quickly to me;

give ear to my voice when I call to you.

2

Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,

and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.

 


Select a resource above

1. O Jehovah! I have cried unto thee. From such an exordium and manner of praying, it is evident that David was laboring under no small trial, as he repeats his requests, and insists upon receiving help. Without venturing to say anything definite upon the point, we would not disapprove of the conjecture that this Psalm was written by David with reference to the persecutions he suffered from Saul. He teaches us by his example to make application immediately to God, and not be tempted, as wicked men are, to renounce prayer, and rely on other resources. He says that he cried to God, not to heaven or earth, to men or to fortune, and other vain objects, which are made mention of, in the first place at least, in such cases by the ungodly. If they do address themselves to God, it is with murmurs and complaints, howling rather than praying.

In the second verse the allusion is evidently to the legal ceremonies. 235235     The allusion, according to the opinion of most commentators, is to the morning and evening sacrifices, of which see an account in Exodus 29:38-42. In the phraseology of the verse it is supposed that there is a reference to the commencing and concluding acts of the daily public worship among the Jews. Every morning and evening the priests offered incense upon the incense-altar which stood in the holy place, while the people prayed without. But in the morning the incense was offered before the sacrifice was laid upon the altar of burnt-offering; whereas in the evening (at the ninth hour) it was offered after the sacrifice was laid upon the altar; and thus in the evening the sacrifice and the incense were offered at the same time. See Lightfoot’s Temple Service, chapter 9: section 5. Dr. Adam Clarke, however, thinks that David does not refer to any sacrifice; “for,” says he, “he uses not זבח, zebach, which is almost universally used for a slaughtered animal, מנחת, minchath, which is generally taken for a gratitude offering, or an unbloody sacrifice.” He translates the last two words “the evening oblation.” At that time the prayers of God’s people were according to his own appointment sanctified through the offering up of incense and sacrifices, and David depended upon this promise. 236236     “Car pource que lors Dieu vouloit que les prieres des fideles fussent sanctifiees par encensement et par sacrifices, David s’appuye sur ceste promesse.” — Fr. As to the conjecture some have made, that he was at this time an exile, and cut off from the privileges of the religious assembly, nothing certain can be said upon that point; their idea being that there is a tacit antithesis in the verse — that though prevented from continuing with God’s worshippers into the sanctuary, or using incense and sacrifice, he desired God would accept his prayers notwithstanding. But as there seems no reason to adopt this restricted sense, it is enough to understand the general truth, that as these symbols taught the Lord’s people to consider their prayers equally acceptable to God with the sweetest incense, and most excellent sacrifice, David derived confirmation to his faith from the circumstance. Although the view of the fathers was not confined entirely to the external ceremonies, David was bound to avail himself of such helps. As he considered, therefore, that it was not in vain the incense was burned daily on the altar by God’s commandment, and the evening offering presented, he speaks of his prayers in connection with this ceremonial worship. The lifting up of the hands, evidently means prayer, for those who translate משאת, masath, a gift, obscure and pervert the meaning of the Psalmist. As the word, which is derived from נשא, nasa, means lifting up in the Hebrew, the natural inference is, that prayer is meant, in allusion to the outward action practiced in it. And we can easily suppose that David here as elsewhere repeats the same thing twice. As to the reason which has led to the universal practice amongst all nations of lifting up the hand in prayer, I have taken notice of it elsewhere.




Advertisements