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Commentary On Psalms Volume 1 by Jean Calvin

Psalm 9:13-14

13. Have mercy upon me, O Jehovah, see my affliction which I suffer from those who persecute me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death.14. That I may recount all thy praises in the gates of the daughter of Sion; and that I may rejoice in thy salvation.

13. Have mercy upon me, O Jehovah. I think that this is the second part of the psalm. Others, however, are of a different opinion, and consider that David, according to his frequent practice, while giving thanks to God for the deliverance wrought for him, mingles with his thanksgiving an account of what had been the matter of his prayer in the extremity of his distress; and examples of the same kind, I confess, are every where to be met with in the Psalms. But when I consider all the circumstances more attentively, I am constrained to incline to the other opinion, namely, that in the commencement he celebrated the favors conferred upon him in order to make way for prayer; and the psalm is at last concluded with a prayer. He does not, therefore, in passing here insert the prayers which he had formerly made in the midst of his dangers and anxieties; but he purposely implores help from God at the present time, and asks that He, whom he had often experienced as his deliverer, would continue the exercise of the same grace towards him. His enemies, perhaps, whom he had already vanquished on various occasions, having gathered new courage, and raised new forces, made a desperate effort, as we often see those who are driven to despair rush upon their enemies just with the greater impetuosity and rage. It is indeed certain, that David, when he offered this prayer, was seized with the greatest fear; for he would not, on account of a small matter, have called upon God to witness his affliction in the way he here does. It ought to be observed, that while he humbly betakes himself to the mercy of God, he bears, with a patient and submissive mind, the cross which was laid upon him. But we ought chiefly to mark the title which he gives to God, calling him his lifter up from the gates of death; for we could not find a more appropriate expression than to lift up for the Hebrew word mrvmm, meromem. By this the Psalmist, in the first place, strengthens his faith from his past experience, inasmuch as he had often been delivered from the greatest dangers. And, in the second place, he assures himself of deliverance, even in the very jaws of death; because God is accustomed not only to succor his servants, and to deliver them from their calamities by ordinary means, but also to bring them from the grave, even after all hope of life is cut off; for the gates of death is a metaphorical expression, denoting the utmost perils which threaten destruction, or rather, which lay the grave open before us. In order, therefore, that neither the weight of the calamities which we presently endure, nor the fear of those which we see impending over us, may overwhelm our faith, or interrupt our prayers, let us call to our remembrance that the office of lifting up his people from the gates of death is not ascribed to God in vain.

14. That I may recount. David's meaning simply is, that he will celebrate the praises of God in all assemblies, and, wherever there is the greatest concourse of people, (for at that time it was the custom to hold assemblies at the gates of cities;) but, at the same time, there seems to be an allusion to the gates of death, of which he has just spoken, as if he had said, After I am delivered from the grave, I will do my endeavor to bear testimony, in the most public manner, to the goodness of God, manifested in my deliverance. As, however, it is not sufficient to utter the praises of God with our tongues, if they do not proceed from the heart, the Psalmist, in the last clause of the verse, expresses the inward joy with which he would engage in this exercise, And that I may rejoice in thy salvation; as if he had said, I desire to live in this world for no other purpose than to rejoice in having been preserved by the grace of God. Under the name of daughter, as is well known, the Jews meant a people or city, but he here names the city from its principal part, namely, Sion.

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