Verse 12. They that sit in the gate speak against me. The ordinary gossips who meet at the city gates for idle talk make me their theme, the business men who there resort for trade forget their merchandise to slander me, and even the beggars who wait at men's doors for alms contribute their share of insult to the heap of infamy.
And I was the song of the drunkard. The ungodly know no merrier jest than that in which the name of the holy is traduced. The flavour of slander is piquant, and gives a relish to the revellers' wine. The character of the man of Nazareth was so far above the appreciation of the men of strength to mingle strong drink, it was so much out of their way and above their thoughts, that it is no wonder it seemed to them ridiculous, and therefore well adapted to create laughter over their cups. The saints are ever choice subjects for satire. Butler's Hudibras owed more of its popularity to its irreligious banter than to any intrinsic cleverness. To this day the tavern makes rare fun of the tabernacle, and the ale bench is the seat of the scorner. What a wonder of condescension is here that he who is the adoration of angels should stoop to be the song of drunkards! What amazing sin that he whom seraphs worship with veiled faces should be a scornful proverb among the most abandoned of men.
"The byword of the passing throng,
The ruler's scoff, the drunkard's song."
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 12. They that sit in the gate: i.e., as it is generally interpreted, the judges or chief persons of the state; for the gates of cities were the places of judicature. But Hillary interprets this of those who sat to beg at the gates of the city; which seems a more probable interpretation, better to agree with the design of the psalmist, and to suit with the drunkards, mentioned in the next clause. Samuel Burder.
Verse 12. They that sit in the gate. The magistrates at the gate. Literally, "assessors at the gate;" "judges sitting to determine causes." John Mason Good.
Verse 12. I was the song of the drunkards. Holy walking is the drunkard's song, as David was; and so preciseness and strictness of walking is ordinarily: the world cannot bear the burning and shining conversations of some of the saints; they are so cuttingly reproved by them, that with those heathens, they curse the sun, that by its shining doth scorch them. It is no new thing; the seed of the serpent did always persecute the seed of the woman; and he that was born after the flesh, persecutes him that was born after the spirit; even so it is now, saith the apostle; and so it is now, may we say. Ishmael mocked Isaac, and is it not so still? Or, if it be not so bold a sin as formerly, it is because the times, not sinner's hearts, are changed; they malign them still, watch for their halting: "report, say they, and we will report it." John Murcot.
Verse 12. I was the song of the drunkards. When magistrates discountenance true religion, then it becometh a matter of derision to rascals, and to every base villain without control, and a table talk to every tippler. The shame of the cross is more grievous than the rest of the trouble of it: this is the fourth time that the shame of the cross is presented unto God, in these last four verses: I was the song of the drunkards; after complaining of his being reproached and being made a proverb. David Dickson.
Verse 12. There is a tavern, or profane mirth, in drinking, and roaring, and revelling, and instead of another minstrel, David must be the song of the drunkards; nor can the Philistines be merry unless Samson be made the fool in the play ( Judges 16:25 ): "Unless they scoff and jeer the ways and servants of God" (as Mr. Greenham saith), "the fools cannot tell how to be merry;" and then the Devil is merry with them for company. But what? Not merry without abusing their host? This some must dearly pay for, when a reckoning is called for; or, they rather called to make it. Then they will be off from their merry pins, and will find that this was very far from being the "Comfort of the Holy Ghost," wherein and whereby that good Spirit and our Comforter was grieved, and holiness scoffed and laughed at. Anthony Tuckney (1599-1670), in "A Good Day Well Improved."
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 10-12. A prophecy.
- Of the Saviour's tears: When I wept.
- Of his fasting.
- Of reproach.
- Of his humiliation: I made sackcloth, etc.
- Of the perversion of his words: as, "I will destroy
this temple," etc.
- Of the opposition of the Pharisees, and rulers: They
that sit in the gate, etc.
- Of the contempt of the lowest of the people: I was
the song, etc. G. R.