Observe, this is not so much a prayer as a resolution, “‘_My voice shalt thou hear_,’ I will not be dumb, I will not be silent, I will not withhold my speech, I will cry to thee, for the fire that dwells within compels me to pray.” We can sooner die than live without prayer. None of God’s children are possessed with a dumb devil.
“_In the morning_.” This is the fittest lime for intercourse with God. An hour in the morning is worth two in the evening. While the dew is on the grass, let grace drop upon the soul. Let us give to God the mornings of our days and the morning of our lives. Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night. Devotion should be both the morning star and the evening star.
If we merely read our English version, and want an explanation of these two sentences, we find it in the figure of an archer, “_I will direct my prayer unto thee_,” I will put my prayer upon the bow, I will direct it towards heaven, and then when I have shot up my arrow, _I will look up_ to see where it has gone. But the Hebrew has a still fuller meaning than this–“I will _direct_ my prayer.” It is the word that is used for the laying in order of the wood and the pieces of the victim upon the altar, and it is used also for the putting of the shewbread upon the table. It means just this: “I will arrange my prayer before thee;” I will lay it out upon the altar in the morning, just as the priest lays out the morning sacrifice. I will _arrange_ my prayer; or, as old Master Trapp has it, “I will marshal up my prayers,” I will put them in order, call up all my powers, and bid them stand in their proper places, that I may pray with all my might, and pray acceptably.
“_And will look up_,” or, as the Hebrew might better be translated, “‘I will look out,’ I will look out for the answer; after I have prayed, I will expect that the blessing shall come.” It is a word that is used in another place where we read of those who watched for the morning. So will I watch for thine answer, O my Lord! I will spread out my prayer like the victim on the altar, and I will look up, and expect to receive the answer by fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice.
Two questions are suggested by the last part of this verse. Do we not miss very much of the sweetness and efficacy of prayer by a want of careful meditation before it, and of hopeful expectation after it? We too often rush into the presence of God without forethought or humility. We are live men who present themselves before a king without a petition, and what wonder is it that we often miss the end of prayer? We should be careful to keep the stream of meditation always running; for this is the water to drive the mill of prayer. It is idle to pull up the flood-gates of a dry brook, and then hope to see the wheel revolve. Prayer without fervency is like hunting with a dead dog, and prayer without preparation is hawking with a blind falcon. Prayer is the work of the Holy Spirit, but he works by means. God made man, but he used the dust of the earth as a material: the Holy Ghost is the author of prayer, but he employs the thoughts of a fervent soul as the gold with which to fashion the vessel. Let not our prayers and praises be the flashes of a hot and hasty brain, but the steady burning of a well-kindled fire.
But, furthermore, do we not forget to watch the result of our supplications? ? We are like the ostrich, which lays her eggs and looks not for her young. We sow the seed, and are too idle to seek a harvest. How can we expect the Lord to open the windows of his grace, and pour us out a blessing, if we will not open the windows of expectation and look up for the promised favour? Let holy preparation link hands with patient expectation, and we shall have far larger answers to our prayers.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
Verse 3.–“_My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord_.” When first thy eyes unveil, give thy soul leave To do the like; our bodies but forerun The spirit’s duty; true hearts spread and heave Unto their God, as flowers do to the sun: Give him thy first thoughts, then, so shalt thou keep Him company all day, and in him sleep. Yet never sleep the sun up; prayer should Dawn with the day, there are set awful hours ‘Twixt heaven and us; the manna was not good After sun-rising, for day sullies flowers. Rise to prevent the sun; sleep doth sins glut, And heaven’s gate opens when the world’s is shut. Walk with thy fellow creatures, note the hush And whisperings amongst them. Not a spring Or leaf but hath his _morning_ hymn; each bush And oak doth know I AM–canst thou not sing? O leave thy cares and follies! Go this way, And thou art sure to prosper all the day.
Henry Vaughan, 1621-1695.
Verse 3.–“_My voice shalt thou hear in the morning_.” “_In the morning shall my prayer prevent thee_,” said Heman. That is the fittest time for devotion, you being then fresh in your spirits, and freest from distractions. Which opportunity for holy duties may fitly be called the wings of the morning.–^Edward Reyner, 1658.
Verse 3.–“_In the morning_.” “In the days of our fathers,” says Bishop Burnet, “when a person came early to the door of his neighbour, and desired to speak with the master of the house, it was as common a thing for the servants to tell him with freedom–‘My master is at prayer,’ as it now is to say, ‘My master is not up.'”
Verse 3.–“_In the morning I will direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up,” or _I will marshal my prayer_, I will bring up petition after petition, pleading after pleading, even till I become like Jacob, a prince with God, till I have won the field and got the day. Thus the word is applied by a metaphor both to disputations with men and supplications to God. Further, we may take the meaning plainly without any strain of rhetoric, _Set thy words in order before me_. Method is good in everything, either an express or covert method. Sometimes it is the best of art to cover it; in speaking there is a special use of method, for though, as one said very well (speaking of those who are more curious about method than serious about matter), “_Method never converted any man_;” yet method and the ordering of words is very useful. Our speeches should not be heaps of words, but words bound up; not a throng of words, but words set in array, or, as it were, in rank and file.–^Joseph Caryl.
Verse 3. “_I will direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up_.” In the words you may observe two things: first, David’s posture in prayer; secondly, his practice after prayer. First, his posture in prayer, “_I will direct my prayer unto thee_.” Secondly, his practice after prayer, “_And I will look up_.” The prophet in these words, makes use of two military words. First, he would not only pray, but marshal up his prayers, he would put them in battle array; so much the Hebrew word _