And when he had taken the book
The Vulgate Latin version reads, "when he had opened the book", very wrongly; for the opening of it by unloosing the seals, one after another, is hereafter mentioned, in ( Revelation 6:1 Revelation 6:3 Revelation 6:5 Revelation 6:7 Revelation 6:9 Revelation 6:12 ) , but when it was observed, that the Lamb took the book, and his commission to open, unseal, and fulfil it,
the four beasts, and four [and] twenty elders, fell down before the
by way of religious worship and adoration of him; which shows that he was not a mere creature, who assumed human nature, suffered, and died, and is the Mediator between God and men, but is truly God, and is the proper object of worship; and so he is regarded by all his faithful ministers, and true churches, which are here signified by the four living creatures, and four and twenty elders; who are represented as
having everyone of them harps;
which were instruments of music, and with which the saints formerly used to praise God, ( Psalms 33:2 ) ; and so may here intend the praises and thanksgivings of the saints, of everyone of them, greater or lesser, upon the present occasion; having their hearts in right tune, making melody with them to the Lord, and giving thanks unto him for all their blessings, temporal and spiritual, and particularly for the Lamb, and his worthiness to open the book, and unloose the seals:
and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints;
this is said in allusion to the golden censers full of incense, which ascended upwards, and was of a sweet smell; the vessels on the shewbread table, in which incense was put, are by Josephus F8 called "golden vials", as here; his words are, upon the loaves were put two (fialai cruseai) , "golden vials", full of incense: the prayers of the saints are compared to "odours", or "incense", as the word may be rendered, and as they are called, ( Psalms 141:2 ) ; partly because as incense goes upwards, so do they go up to God, and are received, regarded, and had in remembrance by him; and partly because as incense is of a sweet smell, so the prayers of the saints, put up in the name and faith of Christ, are very grateful and acceptable to God: the "golden vials" said to be "full" of them, may design the hearts of believers, in which they first are, and from whence they proceed; true prayer is that which is inwrought in the soul, and comes from the heart, even from a heart pure like gold, purified by faith in the blood of Christ, a true heart, that asks in faith, nothing wavering; such as are really saints, true believers in Christ, are praying souls; they are full of prayers for themselves and others; they pray always, and for all saints: this makes nothing for praying to angels and saints departed; for these prayers were their own, and not others; and besides, these four living creatures, and four and twenty elders, were not angels, for they are said to be redeemed by the blood of Christ, and are distinguished from angels in the following verses; nor the saints in heaven, but ministers and churches on earth, and who were to reign with Christ on earth, ( Revelation 5:10 ) ; it may be observed, that the Jews sometimes represent prayer in such like figures as here;
``prayer (they say) ascends with those spices which are mentioned in ( Song of Solomon 4:14 ) ; and at the time that prayer ascends it is perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, and of this the holy blessed God asks, "who is this that comes up", &c. F9 ( Song of Solomon 3:6 ) ;''and they say, prayer is greater than all offerings F11. See ( Revelation 8:3 ) .
F8 Antiqu. l. 3. c. 6. sect. 6.
F9 Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Exod. fol. 48. 3.
F11 Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 40. 3.