Prayer as incense!

Scripture reading for July 1: Psalms 140-145

Have you ever experienced a prolonged time of sickness or trouble that seemed would not end?  Have you felt like God didn’t hear your prayer or wasn’t answering your call?  David’s life was one of deep trouble and prolonged times of pursuit by his enemies.  Often these enemies were his own friends or family!  His brothers were jealous of him and spoke in a derogatory manner about him.  His boss, King Saul, tried to kill him and hunted him mercilessly for a number of years.  His own wife, Michal, despised him for dancing before the Ark!  His son Absalom tried to take his throne by force and hunted him!  But David had a habit of prayer that helped him to keep his soul steady and in tune with the Lord. 

In Psalm 140, David was crying out to the Lord for rescue from evil men.  These men had sharp tongues and plotted violence and war against him.  They wanted to trap him and trip him up.  David realized that he needed God’s mercy to make it through the battles.  He prayed that those who surrounded him would be covered with the trouble that their own lips had caused!  (Psalm 140:9)  In other words, he wanted them to reap what they sowed!  He prayed that they would have burning coals fall upon them and that they would be thrown into the fire and miry pits.  He assured himself that the righteous would praise God’s name because God secures justice for the poor and needy!

In Psalm 141 David asked the Lord to come quickly and help him!  He asked that his prayer would come before God like incense. (Psalm 141:1-2)  The priests would add incense to the burnt offerings to make the smell of the burning meat more fragrant.  As they offered the prayers before the  golden Altar of Incense in the Holy Place, the incense on the coals would rise in sweet fragrance to the Lord before the veil.  In Revelation 8:3-5, John the Apostle sees an angel offering incense with the prayers of the saints on the golden altar before God’s throne.  As the prayers and incense ascended, the Angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and hurled it toward the earth producing thunder, lightning, rumblings and an earthquake!  David knew the power of prayer and expected God to help him!

As we read this series of psalms, we realize that we are totally dependent on God, the Faithful One.   Take time to pray one of David’s prayers: “Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you.  Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.  For Your Name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life; in Your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.” Psalm 143:9-11

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