Have mercy on me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, you that lift me up from the gates of death:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Consider.—Literally, see my suffering from my haters.
My lifter up from the gates of death.—For the gates of sheol, see Note to Psalm 6:5. (Comp. Psalm 107:18, and the Homeric phrase “the gates of Hades.”) We might perhaps paraphrase “from the verge of the grave,” if it were not for the evident antithesis to “gates of the daughter of Zion” in the next verse. We understand, therefore, “gates” in sense of “power,” “rule,” the gate being the seat of the judge or king, and so, like our “court,” synonymous for his power. (Comp. Sublime Porte.)Psalm 9:13-14. Consider my trouble — Namely, compassionately and effectually, so as to bring me out of it; thou that liftest me up from the gates of death — From the brink or mouth of the grave, into which I was dropping, being as near death as a man is to the city who is come to the very gates of it. That I may show forth thy praise in the gates — In the great assemblies which were usually held in the gates of cities; of the daughter of Zion — Of the people who live in, or belong to, or meet together in Zion. These gates of Zion he elegantly opposes to the gates of death, and declares, if he be brought off from the latter, he will go into the former. Cities, it must be observed, are, as it were, mothers to their people, and people are commonly called their daughters. So the daughters of Egypt, Jeremiah 46:11; and of Edom, Lamentations 4:21; and of Tyre, Psalm 45:12; are put for the people of those places. I will rejoice in thy salvation — Namely, with spiritual joy and thanksgiving; else it would be no fit motive to be used to God in prayer.
Consider my trouble - Do not forget this trouble; bear it in remembrance; look upon its character and its depth, and mercifully interpose to deliver me.
Which I suffer of them that hate me - Or, "see my suffering arising from those that hate me; or, which is produced by those who hate me." The design is to fix the attention on the greatness of that suffering as caused by his "haters" or by his enemies - the foes that were still unsubdued.
Thou that liftest me up from the gates of death - Thou on whom I rely to do this; or, who hast done it in times past. The idea by bars and walls; as entered by gates - the grave leading to it. See Introduction to Job, Section 7, and the notes at Job 10:21-22. The psalmist felt that he had come near to that dark and gloomy abode, and that God only could rescue him from it; therefore, in the trouble which now threatened his life, he looks to him to interfere and save him.
14 That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.
Memories of the past and confidences concerning the future conducted the man of God to the mercy seat to plead for the needs of the present. Between praising and praying he divided all his time. How could he have spent it more profitably? His first prayer is one suitable for all persons and occasions, it breathes a humble spirit, indicates self knowledge, appeals to the proper attributes, and to the fitting person. Have mercy upon me, O Lord. Just as Luther used to call some texts little Bibles, so we may call this sentence a little prayer-book for it has in it the soul and marrow of prayer. It is multum in parvo, and like the angelic sword turns every way. The ladder looks to be short, but it reaches from earth to heaven.
What a noble title is here given to the Most High. Thou that liftest me up the gates of death! What a glorious lift! In sickness, in sin, in despair, in temptation, we have been brought very low, and the gloomy portal has seemed as if it would open to imprison us, but, underneath us were the everlasting arms, and, therefore, we have been uplifted even to the gates of heaven. Trapp quaintly says, "He commonly reserveth his hand for a dead lift, and rescueth those who were even talking of their graves." We must not overlook David's object in desiring mercy, it is God's glory: "that I may show forth all thy praise." Saints are not so selfish as to look only to self; they desire mercy's diamond that they may let others see it flash and sparkle, and may admire Him who gives such priceless gems to his beloved. The contrast between the gates of death and the gates of the New Jerusalem is very striking; let our songs be excited to the highest and most rapturous pitch by the double consideration of whence we are taken, and to what we have been advanced, and let our prayers for mercy be made more energetic and agonizing by a sense of the grace which such a salvation implies. When David speaks of his showing forth all God's praise, he means that, in his deliverance grace in all its heights and depths would be magnified. Just as our hymn puts it: -
"O the length and breadth of love!
Jesus, Saviour, can it be?
All thy mercy's height Iprove,
All the depth is seen in me."
Here ends the first part of this instructive psalm, and in pausing awhile we feel bound to confess that our exposition has only flitted over its surface, and has not digged into the depths. The verses are singularly full of teaching, and if the Holy Spirit shall bless the reader, he may go over this Psalm, as the writer has done scores of times, and see on each occasion fresh beauties.Consider my trouble, to wit, compassionately and effectually, so as to bring me out of it.
From the gates of death; from the brink or mouth of the grave, into which I was dropping, being as near death as a man is to the city that is come to the very gates of it. And so the phrase is used Psalm 107:18 Isaiah 38:10, and in other authors of whom see my Latin Synopsis.
Gates elsewhere signify power and policy, because the gates of cities were places both of counsel and strength; but
the gates of death are never so taken in Scripture.
consider, my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me; or "see my affliction because of mine enemies" (l); look upon me under it with an eye of pity and compassion, and help and deliver me; and look upon mine enemies that give me this trouble, and take vengeance on them;
thou that liftest me up from the gates of death; the house appointed for all living; that is, from the power of it, when just upon the brink of it; when near it, as a person is to an house, when he is at the gates of it; either through sickness, or some violent distemper of body, as Hezekiah was; or through some imminent danger in battle, as David was when engaged with Goliath; when everyone thought, as Kimchi observes, that he should fall by his hand: or it may be this may have respect to his being raised up from the death of sin, and delivered from the power of darkness; to his being brought out of the horrible pit and miry clay of an unregenerate state, and set upon the rock of salvation; which is a lifting up indeed, an exaltation from a very low to a very high estate: and this the psalmist takes notice of to encourage his faith; and makes use of it as an argument with God, that as he had dealt so graciously and bountifully with him, he would still show mercy to him, and look upon him under his affliction.Have mercy upon me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)13. Have mercy upon me] Rather, Be gracious unto me. See note on Psalm 4:1.
consider my trouble &c.] See the affliction which I suffer from them that hate me. Cp. Psalm 10:14; Psalm 31:7; Exodus 3:7; Exodus 3:9; Exodus 4:31.
thou that liftest me up from the gates of death] He had been brought down as it were to the very entrance of that mysterious place from which he knew of no possibility of return; to the gates which opened for entrance but not for exit. Cp. Psalm 107:18; Job 38:17; Isaiah 38:10; Matthew 16:18; and the Homeric Ἀΐδαο πύλαι (Il. 9:646, &c.). How different the Christian view of “the grave and gate of death” as the passage to “a joyful resurrection!”
13, 14. Stanza of Cheth. The connexion is difficult. The preceding and succeeding verses speak of deliverance granted, of victory won. Why then this abruptly introduced prayer for relief? To regard it as the ‘cry of the afflicted’ in their past distress seems inconsistent with the vigorous directness of the Psalm; and it is best to suppose that the recollection of dangers which still threaten prompts a prayer even in the moment of triumph. But it is possible that by a simple change in the vocalisation (Introd. p. lxvii) the verbs should be read as perfects instead of imperatives:—‘Jehovah hath been gracious unto me; he hath seen my affliction … lifting me up &c.’ So the Greek version of Aquila; and so Jerome, according to the best reading (misertus est mei … vidit afflictionem meam).Verse 13. - Have mercy upon me, O Lord! The consideration of God's mercies in the past, and especially in the recent deliverance, leads the psalmist to implore a continuance of his mercies in the future. He is not yet free from troubles. There are still enemies who afflict and threaten him - "heathen" who seek to "prevail" against him (vers. 19, 20), and perhaps already domestic enemies, especially the "sons of Zeruiah," causing him anxiety. Consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me; literally, my trouble (or, my affliction) from my haters. Vers. 17, 19, 20 show that the heathen are especially intended (see 2 Samuel 10:15-19). Thou that liftest me up from the gates of death; i.e. "Thou that continually (or, habitually) art my Support in the extremity of peril," "lifting me up" even from the very "gates of death." (For other mentions of "the gates of death," see Job 38:17; Psalm 107:18.) Classical writers speak of "the gates of darkness" (σκότου πύλας) in almost the same sense (Eurip., 'Hec.,' 1. 1). Psalm 29:10. Everything that is opposed to Him comes to a terrible end, whereas He sits, or (which the fut. implies) abides, enthroned for ever, and that as Judge: He hath prepared His throne for the purpose of judgment. This same God, who has just given proof that He lives and reigns, will by and by judge the nations still more comprehensively, strictly, and impartially. תּכל, a word exclusively poetic and always without the article, signifies first (in distinction from ארץ the body of the earth and אדמה the covering or soil of the earth) the fertile (from יבל) surface of the globe, the οἰκουμένη. It is the last Judgment, of which all preceding judgments are harbingers and pledges, that is intended. In later Psalms this Davidic utterance concerning the future is repeated.
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