|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
118:19-29 Those who saw Christ's day at so great a distance, saw cause to praise God for the prospect. The prophecy, ver.
Verse 19. - Open to me the gates of righteousness. The great gate of the temple being now reached, admission to the interior is requested. The gates are called "the gates of righteousness,"
(1) as gates which none but the righteous ought to enter (see the next verse); and
(2) as gates through which access is gained to the sanctuary of him who alone is truly righteous, and the source of all righteousness in others. I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord. Praise could be given to God any where; but it was most appropriately offered "in the courts of the Lord's house, even in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem" (Psalm 116:19).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Open to me the gates of righteousness,.... The doors of the sanctuary or tabernacle, so called, because none but righteous persons might enter in at them, or who were clean in a ceremonial sense; and because sacrifices of righteousness were here offered. The words are addressed to the porters, or Levites, that kept the doors of the tabernacle, to open them. The Targum is,
"open to me the gates of the city of righteousness;''
Jerusalem, so called Isaiah 1:26; the gates of which were opened to David, when he took it from the Jebusites. An emblem of the church or city of God, the gates of which are opened to the righteous to enter into now; and of the New Jerusalem, and of the heavenly glory, into which the saints will have an abundant entrance hereafter; see Isaiah 26:1. Moreover, these may be the words of the Messiah, requiring the gates of heaven to be opened to him by his blood, he having obtained redemption for his people; see Psalm 24:7;
I will go in to them, and I will praise the Lord: at the gates of the tabernacle David entered, and praised the Lord for his deliverance and salvation, and for the many favours and honours bestowed on him; and in the church of God do the saints praise him, as they will do in heaven to all eternity; and where Christ, as man, is praising his divine Father, Psalm 22:22.
The Treasury of David
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord:
20 This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter.
21 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
"Open to me the gates of righteousness." The grateful champion having reached the entrance of the temple, asks for admission in set form, as if he felt that he could only approach the hallowed shrine by divine permission, and wished only to enter in the appointed manner. The temple of God was meant for the righteous to enter and offer the sacrifices of righteousness, hence the gates are called the gates of righteousness. Righteous deeds were done within its walls, and righteous teachings sounded forth from its courts. The phrase "the gate" is sometimes used to signify power or empire; as, for instance, "the Sublime Porte" signifies the seat of empire of Turkey; the entrance to the temple was the true Sublime Porte, and what is better, it was the porta jutstitiae, the gate of righteousness, the palace of the great King, who is in all things just. "I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord." Only let the gate be opened, and the willing worshipper will enter; and he will enter in the right spirit, and for the best of purposes, that he may render homage unto the Most High. Alas, there are multitudes who do not care whether the gates of God's house are opened or not; and although they know that they are opened wide they never care to enter, neither does the thought of praising God so much as cross their minds. The time will come for them when they shall find the gates of heaven shut against them, for those gates are peculiarly the gates of righteousness through which there shall by no means enter anything that defileth. Our champion might have praised the Lord in secret, and doubtless he did so; but he was not content without going up to the assembly, there to register his thanksgivings. Those who neglect public worship generally neglect all worship; those who praise God within their own gates are among the readiest to praise him within his temple gates. Our hero had also in all probability been sore sick, and therefore like Hezekiah he says, "The Lord was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of my life in the house of the Lord." Public praise for public mercies is every way most appropriate, most acceptable to God, and most profitable to others.
"This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter." The Psalmist loves the house of God so well that he admires the very gate thereof, and pauses beneath its arch to express his affection for it. He loved it because it was the gate of the Lord, he loved it because it was the gate of righteousness, because so many godly people had already entered it, and because in all future ages such persons will continue to pass through its portals. If the gate of the Lord's house on earth is so pleasant to us, how greatly shall we rejoice when we pass that gate of pearl, to which none, but the righteous shall ever approach, but through which all the just shall in due time enter to eternal felicity. The Lord Jesus has passed that way, and not only set the gate wide open, but secured an entrance for all those who are made righteous in his righteousness: all the righteous must and shall enter there, whoever may oppose them. Under another aspect our Lord is himself that gate, and through him, as the new and living Way, all the righteous delight to approach unto the Lord. Whenever we draw near to praise the Lord we must come by this gate; acceptable praise never climbs over the wall, or enters by any other way, but comes to God in Christ Jesus; as it is written, "no man cometh unto the Father but by me." Blessed, for ever blessed, be this wondrous gate of the person of our Lord.
Having entered, the champion exclaims, "I will praise thee," not "I will praise the Lord," for now he vividly realizes the divine presence, and addresses himself directly to Jehovah, whom his faith sensibly discerns. How well it is in all our songs of praise to let the heart have direct and distinct communion with God himself I The Psalmist's song was personal praise too: - "I will praise thee"; resolute praise, for he firmly resolved to offer it; spontaneous praise, for he voluntarily and cheerfully rendered it, and continuous praise, for he did not intend soon to have done with it. It was a life-long vow to which there would never come a close, "I will praise thee." "For thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation." He praises God by mentioning his favours, weaving his song out of the divine goodness which he had experienced. In these words he gives the reason for his praise, - his answered prayer, and the deliverance which he had received in consequence. How fondly he dwells upon the personal interposition of God! "Thou hast heard me." How heartily he ascribes the whole of his victory over his enemies to God; nay, he sees God himself to be the whole of it: "Thou art become my salvation." It is well to go directly to God himself, and not to stay even in his mercy, or in the acts of his grace. Answered prayers bring God very near to us; realised salvation enables us to realise the immediate presence of God. Considering the extreme distress through which the worshipper had passed, it is not at all wonderful that he should feel his heart full of gratitude at the great salvation which God had wrought for him, and should at his first entrance into the temple lift up his voice in thankful praise for personal favours so great, so needful, so perfect.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
19-21. Whether an actual or figurative entrance into God's house be meant, the purpose of solemn praise is intimated, in which only the righteous would or could engage.
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