"Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. I will give You thanks, for You answered me; You have become my salvation." Psalm 118:19-21
Gates. They are used to keep people out. They are used to keep animals in. Gates are very important. Growing up, my Papa was a dairy farmer. There were many gates in the pastures connecting them to each other making it easier to switch the cows from one pasture to another. The milk barn also had gates. As the cows moved into the barn and were herded to a stall, a gate closed behind them to ensure they didn't try to escape. When milking was finished a gate opened in front of the cow allowing her to exit the stall.
In Psalm 118 the Psalmist speaks of gates of righteousness. This Psalm is the last of the Hallel Psalms. This group of Psalms (Psalm 113-118) was sung as the people entered into the Temple gates to praise the Lord and sacrifice to Him. Most scholars agree that this Psalm was probably written during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah and tells the story of the triumphal and rapid rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. With the mention of gates and building stones and enemies trying to stop the work, this is most likely true.
This Psalm was sung at the Feast of Tabernacles as a call to praise God. The repeated phrases are still used in many liturgical services today. Like all of God's active and alive Word, this Psalm has much to teach believers thousands of years after it was written. In verses 1-4 we learn we are to always thank the Lord. Paul echoed this sentiment in many of his letters.
"Sing and make music to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:19b-20
"...in every situation [no matter the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP
Certainly, we all have much for which to be thankful to God. His enduring love is the major theme of the thanksgiving in these verses. Verse 4 states:
"Let those who fear the Lord say: 'His love endures forever.'"
Proverbs 1:7 tells us the fear of the Lord is where all knowledge begins:
"The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of knowledge [its starting point and essence]." AMP
As God's children, we are included in those who fear the Lord. Indeed, we cannot come to Him without this reverent, awestruck, worshipful fear. We can be thankful that this holy, perfect God loves us and calls us to Himself.
The next thing this Psalm teaches us is that we can always trust God to help us. The name for God translated LORD and meaning Yahweh, is used in every verse from verse 5-14. What we learn about the LORD in these verses is:
He answers us when we cry to Him
He brings us into spacious places
He is with us so we don't need to be afraid
He is with us to help us
He is our refuge and can be trusted more than humans
He is a better refuge than anyone else
He enables us to overcome our enemies
He helps us when we are weak
He is our strength
He is our salvation
Listening. Provision. Presence. Aid. Reliability. Refuge. Safety. Victory. Strength. Salvation. These are all qualities of God we can rely on, we can trust Him always and in every circumstance. We can be thankful this trustworthy God is always with us and gives us strength to equal our days.
A third thing we learn from this Psalm is God is worthy of our praise and we should glorify Him with it. The phrase; "The strong right arm of the Lord" is repeated three times in verses 15-16. The right hand suggests dominance and strength. Speaking through Isaiah God said:
"My mercy and justice are coming soon. My salvation is on the way. My strong arm will bring justice to the nations. All distant lands will look to Me and wait in hope for My powerful arm." Isaiah 51:5 NLT
God is the Strongest Strong One and we are to glorify Him in all we do. He is the One who brings the victory of salvation through Christ Jesus and we are to praise Him. Speaking about this Salvation, Paul told the Philippians:
"You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of honor and gave Him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Philippians 2:5-11 NLT
Jesus has been exalted to the right hand of God and because He has He is worthy of all praise, honor, ad glory forevermore! We can be thankful this humble Servant became our salvation.
In our focus verses, the Psalmist asks God to open the gates of righteousness, allowing him to enter and give thanks to the Lord. In Isaiah 45 God is speaking about His salvation coming not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles. He says of Himself:
"For there is no other God but Me, a righteous God and Savior. There is none but Me. Let all the world look to Me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other." Isaiah 45:21b-22
Because God is holy and righteous, sinful man cannot enter His presence. Jesus is the gate of righteousness through which we can enter. He said of Himself:
"I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before Me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through Me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures."
We can be thankful that Jesus is the Gate of Righteousness. God no longer sees our sin but His Son when He looks at us.
"Our faith in Jesus transfers God's righteousness to us and He now declares us flawless in His eyes. This means we can now enjoy true and lasting peace with God, all because of what our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, has done for us. Our faith guarantees us permanent access into this marvelous kindness that has given us a perfect relationship with God. What incredible joy bursts forth within us as we keep on celebrating our hope of experiencing God's glory." Romans 5:1-2 TPT
We can be thankful that Jesus is the Gateway to God's Presence. Because of Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension we can now come into God's presence freely and unashamedly.
"And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven's Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By His death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God's house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him. For our guilty consciences have been washed with pure water." Hebrews 10:19-22 NLT
We can be thankful Jesus is the Gate of Salvation. Speaking before the high priest and other religious leaders Peter proclaimed:
"There is no one else who has the power to save us, for there is only one name to whom God has given authority by which we must experience salvation: the name of Jesus." Acts 4:12 TPT
Gathered Manna for Psalm 118:19-21 is:
Jesus is the only Gate that opens to heaven.
Have you entered this Gate? I pray you have, and if you haven't will you ask Jesus into your heart so this Gate opens for you? We can be truly thankful for this precious, powerful, and phenomenal Gate!
Until next time keep gathering manna, growing deeper, and gaining intimacy!
God bless and keep you,