Psalms 141:2

2 Treat my prayer as sweet incense rising; my raised hands are my evening prayers.

Psalms 141:2 Meaning and Commentary

Psalms 141:2

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 Exodus 30:7 Exodus 30:8 ) ( Luke 1:10 ) ; 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 ) ( Revelation 8:3 Revelation 8:4 ) ;

[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 29:38-41 ) ; 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 ) ( 10:3 ) . Wherefore "lifting up of [the] hands" was a prayer gesture, and a very ancient one both among Jews and Gentiles F24; Aristotle F25 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.


F24 Vid. Barthii Animadv. in Claudian. ad Rufin. l. 2. v. 205.
F25 De Mundo, c. 6. Vid. Plutarch. in Vita Camilli. "Sustulit ad sidera palmas", Virgil. Aeneid. 2. so Ovid. Fasti, l. 3.

Psalms 141:2 In-Context

1 God, come close. Come quickly! Open your ears - it's my voice you're hearing!
2 Treat my prayer as sweet incense rising; my raised hands are my evening prayers.
3 Post a guard at my mouth, God, set a watch at the door of my lips.
4 Don't let me so much as dream of evil or thoughtlessly fall into bad company. And these people who only do wrong - don't let them lure me with their sweet talk!
5 May the Just One set me straight, may the Kind One correct me, Don't let sin anoint my head. I'm praying hard against their evil ways!
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.