ADVENT DEC. 14
"O Lord, I call upon You; hasten to me!
Give ear to my voice when I call to You!
May my prayer be counted as incense before You;
The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering."
What a beautiful description of prayer.
I heard a sermon once with this quote...
"Prayer does not produce, but puts us in contact with a God who provides."
Matthew Henry says, "His (David's) crying denotes fervency in prayer...Those that cry in prayer may hope to be heard in prayer, not for their loudness, but their liveliness...he that prays may be earnest with God to make haste. His praying and the lifting up of his hands signifying the lifting up of the heart, and being used instead of lifting up of sacrifices...Prayer is a spiritual sacrifice;
it is the offering up of the soul, and its best affections, to God. Prayer is of a sweet-smelling savour to God as incense, which has not savour without fire; nor has prayer without the fire of holy love and fervor."
Adam Clarke says, "He (David) was in frequent troubles and difficulties; and he always sought help in God. He ever appears in earnest; at no time is here any evidence that the devotion of David was formal. He prayed, meditated, supplicated, groaned, cried, and even roared, as he tells us, for the disquietude of his soul. He had speedy answers; for he had much faith, and was always in earnest...The literal translation of the passage is, 'Let my prayer be established for incense before Thy face; and the lifting up of my hands, for the evening oblation.'
Why do these verses make me think of the prayerful, but hard labor of the innocent virgin Mary there in a stable upon the hay possibly without attendants, only her intended Joseph. It was in earnest as she prayed, supplicated, groaned and cried out. Part of the curse of the fall was "To the woman He said, 'I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children.'" (Genesis 3:16) Then when Eve does experience childbirth, the first one ever with no one to truly tell her what to do, she says herself, "I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord." (Genesis 4:1) Don't you just love it! I can imagine Eve yelling out, "HELP!" Adam would have been worthless in such a situation I would venture. So, God was the first midwife or labor coach or the doctor who caught the first child ever born.
So can you truly believe that God was not there with the young thing giving birth in the stable to His only begotten One? There is no indication that little Mary got exempted from the pain of labor. I can imagine her crying out to God in prayer saying, "O Lord, I call upon You; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to You!" How could God not answer and be there in her time of need with His comfort just as the hovering over in the Spirit in the conception. This is all part of the mystery of Jesus being fully-God, fully-man. The fully-man part began in the womb, then in the delivery room by the painful labor of Mary.
Then the ultimate lifting up of the hands to receive the babe. "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14) "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life...These things we write, so that our joy may be complete."
(I John 1:1-4)
I see the babe looked at and touched and held, the One who became flesh, whose glory drew shepherds, Wise Men, Anna and Simeon in the temple, and who still draws us to His glory so our joy may be complete in the lifting up of our hands in worship, in prayer, and in rejoicing.