Be merciful to me, O LORD; see how my enemies afflict me! Snatch me from the gates of death,
I. THE GATES OF DEATH OPEN BUT ONCE; THE GATES OF ZION OPEN CONTINUALLY. (Hebrews 9:27; Isaiah 60:11.)
II. THE GATES OF DEATH OPEN TO ALL MEN WITHOUT DISTINCTION; THE GATES OF ZION OPEN ONLY TO THE GOOD. (Ecclesiastes 9:5; John 3:3.)
III. THE GATES OF DEATH OPEN WITHOUT OUR WILL; THE GATES OF ZION ONLY OPEN ACCORDING TO OUR CHOICE. (Ecclesiastes 8:8; Matthew 7:13.)
IV. THE GATES OF DEATH OPEN TO MEN' AS TRANGRESSORS; THE GATES OF ZION OPEN TO THE OBJECTS OF GRACE AND SALVATION. (Romans 5:12; Isaiah 26:1, 2.)
V. THE GATES OF DEATH ARE DARK WITH TERRORS; THE GATES OF ZION ARE BRIGHT WITH HOPE. (Hebrews 2:15; Psalm 118:20.)
VI. THE GATES OF DEATH AND THE GATES OF ZION ARE ALIKE UNDER THE SUPREME CONTROL OF GOD. (Romans 14:8, 9; Revelation 1:18.)
VII. IF WE HAVE ENTERED BY THE GATES OF ZION, AND DWELT THERE WITH GOD, WE NEED NOT FEAR WHEN CALLED TO PASS THROUGH THE GATES OF DEATH. Job asks (Job 38:17), "Have the gates of death been opened to thee?" They have to others. They will be by-and-by to us. We are always near them and in sight of them, but we have no power over them. We cannot hinder them from opening when it is God's will, nor can we return when once we have passed through them. It cannot be long before our turn comes. Every setting sun, every passing hour, every beat of the pulse, is bringing the time nearer. Happy are we if we are found ready, so that the gates of death may be to us the entering into the city, where we may have right to the tree of life and the endless joys of God (Revelation 22:14)! - W.F.
Consider my trouble.
The second part of the Psalm begins with ver. 13. The prayer in that verse is the only trace of trouble in the Psalm. The rest is triumph and exaltation. This, at first discordant, note has sorely exercised commentators; and the violent solution that the whole of the Cheth stanza (vers. 13, 14) should be regarded as "the cry of the meek," quoted by the Psalmist, and therefore be put in inverted commas (though adopted by Delitzsch and Cheyne), is artificial and cold. There is little difficulty in the connection. The victory has been completed over certain enemies, but there remain others; and the time for praise unmingled with petition has not yet come for the Psalmist, as it never comes for any of us in this life. Quatre Bras is won, but Waterloo has to be fought tomorrow. The prayer takes account of the dangers still threatening, but it only glances at these, and then once more turns to look with hope on the accomplished deliverance. The thought of how God had lifted the suppliant up from the very gates of death heartens him to pray for all further mercy needed. Death is the lord of a gloomy prison house, the gates of which open inwards only, and permit no egress. On its very threshold the Psalmist stood. But God had, lifted him thence,, and the remembrance wings his prayer. The "gates of the daughter of Zion" are in sharp, happy contrast with the frowning portals of death. A city's gates are the place of cheery life, stir, gossip, business. Anything proclaimed there flies far. There the Psalmist resolves that he will tell his story of rescue, which he believes was granted that it might be told. God's end is the spread of His name, not for any good to Him, but because to know it is life to us.
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