Verse 13. For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates. Her fortifications were finished, even to the fastenings of the gates, and God had made all sound and strong, even to her bolts and bars: thus her security against invading foes was guaranteed. This is no small mercy. Oh, that our churches were thus preserved from all false doctrine and unholy living! This must be the Lord's doing; and where he has wrought it his name is greatly to be praised. Modern libertines would tear down all gates and abolish all bars; but so do not we, because of the fear of the Lord. He hath blessed thy children within thee. Internal happiness is as truly the Lord's gift as external security. When the Lord blesses "thy sons in the midst of thee", thou art, O Zion, filled with a happy, united, zealous, prosperous, holy people, who dwell in communion with God, and enter into the joy of their Lord. When God makes thy walls salvation thy gates must be praise. It would little avail to fortify a wretched, starving city; but when the walls are strengthened, it is a still greater joy to see that the inhabitants are blessed with all good gifts. How much our churches need a present and abiding benediction.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 13. He hath strengthened the bars of thy gates. Blessed is the city whose gates God barreth up with his power, and openeth again with his mercy. There is nothing can defend where his justice will strike; and there is nothing can offend where his goodness will preserve. --Thomas Adams.
Verse 13-14. The Psalmist recites four arguments from which he would have Zion sing praises.
- Security and defence.
- Sustenance or provision.
- Security. Jerusalem is a city secure, being defended by God: For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates. Gates and bars do well to a city, but then only is the city secure when God makes them strong. The true munition of a city is God's defence of it. Arms, laws, wealth, etc., are the bars, but God must put strength into them.
- Benediction. Jerusalem is a happy city, for he hath blessed thy children, within, thee, thy kings, princes, magistrates, etc., with wisdom, piety, etc.
- Peace. Jerusalem is a peaceable city. He maketh peace in thy borders, the very name intimates so much; for Jerusalem interpreted is visio pacis -- Vision of peace.
- Abundance. Jerusalem is a city provided by God with necessary food and provision; for He filleth thee with the finest of the wheat. --William Nicholson.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 13. A Strong Church.
- The utility and value of a strong church.
- The marks which distinguish it.
- Gates well kept.
- Increase of membership.
- The converts blessed to others.
- The important care of a strong church: to trace all blessing to Zion's God. -- W.B.H.