‘Let my prayer be set forth before Thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.’
I. This psalm is for the morning.—As the incense rises, so prayer should rise. It is sweet to God. It is on earth what the intercession of Christ is before the throne. The ancient saints stood to pray, and lifted up their hands. There is nothing we need more as we go forth into the day than that God should put a sentry before our mouth to keep the door of our lips. What we speak very largely determines what we are. St. James says the tongue is the rudder of the whole body, and this is true. If you repress unkind words, you will cease to think unkind thoughts. What you utter tends to become a habit of the inner life. The ungodly say our lips are our own; the child of God desires that every word in the mouth should be beneath God’s control. It is a good thing to cultivate the habit of silence: people who are always talking are like cisterns with a leaking tap. Besides the keeping of the lips, we need to claim the preoccupation of the heart with love, and faith, and hope, that there may be no room for evil things.
II. But more than this, the lifting up of our hands is like the evening sacrifice.—Each evening, in the Temple, there was an offering of meal made to God by the uplifted hand of the priest. It was as though God fed on the gifts and worship of His people. In a distinctly higher sense that is true of us also. We bring to God, at the close of the day, the poor service that we have been permitted to perform, the little acts of kindness, the thoughtfulnesses, the meek bearing of wrong for His sake, and God accepts them in Christ. They feast Him. They are as food to the flaming love of His heart. Let us not think so much of what these things may procure for us, as of their preciousness to God, who accepts us ‘in the Beloved.’
‘The Psalmist yearned for his prayer to be taken up into, incorporated as it were, established with the ordered ritual of his Church. From this point of view he is a Church poet, like Ken or Keble.’