Verse 19. 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 justitiae, 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.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 19. Open to me the gates of righteousness. The gates won by his righteousness, to whom we daily say, "Thou only art holy"; the gates which needed the "Via Dolorossa and the cross, before they could roll back on their hinges. On a certain stormy afternoon, after the sun had been for three hours darkened, the world again heard of that Eden from which, four thousand years before, Adam had been banished. "Verily I say unto thee, this day shalt thou be with me in paradise." O blessed malefactor, who thus entered into the heavenly gardens! O happy thief, that thus stole the kingdom of heaven! And see how valiantly he now enters it. "Open to me the gates of righteousness. Not "God be merciful to me a sinner"; not "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." But this is what is called the suppliant; omnipotence of prayer. "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." John Mason Neale.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- Access to God desired.
- Humbly requested: "Open to me."
- Boldly accepted: "I will go into them."
- Gratefully enjoyed: "And praise the Lord."