Psalm 141:2

Hebrew Bible

1 A psalm of David.O Lord, I cry out to you. Come quickly to me. Pay attention to me when I cry out to you. 2 May you accept my prayer like incense, my uplifted hands like the evening offering. 3 O Lord, place a guard on my mouth. Protect the opening of my lips. 4 Do not let me have evil desires or participate in sinful activities with men who behave wickedly. I will not eat their delicacies. 5 May the godly strike me in love and correct me. May my head not refuse choice oil. Indeed, my prayer is a witness against their evil deeds.

Revelation 8:3

New Testament

1 Now when the Lamb opened the seventh seal there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2 Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. 3 Another angel holding a golden censer came and was stationed at the altar. A large amount of incense was given to him to offer up, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar that is before the throne. 4 The smoke coming from the incense, along with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it on the earth, and there were crashes of thunder, roaring, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.

 Notes and References

"... the other angel is given much incense to offer first and, secondly, it is the smoke of the incense that goes up before God when he offers. In both cases the phrase about the prayers of (all) the saints, formulated in the dative, is linked to the incense in a more indirect manner so that the incense and its smoke is in focus. Some explain the incense as symbolic of the prayers of the saints. Thus Caird 1966, 107 notes, “The incense is the symbol of the prayers.” (In texts like 1 Enoch 15:2; 99:3; 3 Baruch 11-16; Tobit 12:12 and Testament of Levi 3:7 angels are portrayed as bearers of human prayer to God ...) A much quoted parallel that seems to support this position is Psalm 141:2: “May my prayer be set before you like incense.” Aune (1998, 513) quotes this Psalm and Paraleipomena Jeremiou 9:1-4 as examples of a close connection between incense and prayer. If this would be true, the incense symbolizes prayers and the act of mediation, putting too much pressure on the text here. But the theory that incense symbolizes prayers runs into difficulties as well. In Rev 5:8 incense is indeed explicitly explained as the prayers of the saints, but here in Rev 8:3b-4 there is no such identification ..."

de Villiers, Peter G. R. The Eschatological Celebration of Salvation and the Prophetic Announcement of Judgment: The Message of Revelation 8:1-6 in the Light of Its Composition (pp. 67-96) Neotestamenica 41.1, 2007

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