“Let my prayer be set before you as incense” Psalm 141:2
God has a temple outside of heaven. Not all the worship, nor all the worshipers, are confined to that blissful world where he immediately dwells. He has another sanctuary upon earth―other worshipers and other services, where, with whom, and with which, the beams of his presence are as strictly promised and as truly shine as in the general assembly of the church gathered around him in glory. It is not the magnificent structure made with hands, with its splendid ritual and its ponderous ceremonial, flattering to the pride and captivating to the sense of man, but a temple and a temple-service far more beautiful in God’s eye is that of which we speak. “Thus says the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that you build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all these things has my hand made, and all these things have been, says the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word.” “Thus says the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite one.” This is God’s temple upon earth, this his worshiper, and this his worship. The material structure is nothing, the magnificent service is nothing, the formal worshiper is nothing, “but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembles at my word.” Oh most solemn truth! Oh most precious words! “Lord! engrave them upon my heart by your blessed Spirit. Be my body your temple, my heart your sanctuary, your presence my life, my life your service.”
The believer in Jesus is a royal priest, ordained to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God. He is called and consecrated, clothed and anointed, to a high and holy service. His calling is divine, his consecration is holy, his clothing is costly, his anointing is fragrant. Before the standing and the glory and the service of one of the royal priesthood, all the pomp and gorgeousness of Aaron’s priesthood fade into nothing. Called according to God’s purpose, consecrated and set apart by sovereign grace, invested with the righteousness of Christ, anointed with the Holy Spirit, and offering up the spiritual sacrifice of a “broken and a contrite heart,”―is it surprising that God should look with an eye of ineffable delight upon such a worshiper? But of a single one only of these many interesting points must we allow ourselves at present to speak. We refer to the incense which every true believer in Jesus, in his character of a royal priest, offers to the Lord.
The subject presents the Christian to our view in his holiest and most solemn feature―drawing near to God, and presenting before the altar of his grace the incense of prayer. The typical reference to this is strikingly beautiful. “You shall make an altar to burn incense upon?and Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning; when he dresses the lamps he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lights the lamps at even he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.” That this incense was typical of prayer would appear from Luke 1:10, “And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the time of incense.” And David, though dwelling in the more shadowy age of the church, thus correctly and beautifully interprets this type: “Let my prayer be set before you as incense.” It is an appropriate and an impressive figure. And thankful, dear reader, should we be to avail ourselves whatever in the Divine Word tends to teach us the nature, to illustrate the blessedness, to deepen the solemnity, and to engage our heats in the holy duty and sweet privilege of―PRAYER. Interesting and important as are the topics upon which we have previously addressed you, all must yield to the interest and importance of this one. Prayer is the vital breath of the living soul; prayer is the mode of our approach to God; prayer is the appointed channel of all blessing. The season contemplated throughout this little volume is especially the season in which prayer is found the most soothing and sanctifying.
Please follow and like us: