“The Gates Of Righteousness”

“Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD: this gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter.  I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.” Psalm 118:19-21

In verse 19, David expressed his desire to enter through the “gates of righteousness” (in other words, the gates of the Tabernacle.)  Then, in verse 20, David was met with a response: “This is the gate of righteousness.”  Since the Hebrew language does not use linking verbs, we can rightly understand this phrase as a statement: “This is the gate of the LORD.”  It is as though someone on the inside of the gate is affirming that this is, indeed, the “gate of the LORD,” and is giving David permission to enter. 

This is, in fact, how the Jews of Christ’s day understood this verse.  During the Feast of Tabernacles, a group of priests and Levites would gather willow branches from Brook Kidron, and would come to Gate Beautiful of the Temple.  They would then stand outside the gate and sing these very words from Psalm 118:19: “Open to me the gates of righteousness.”  Then, another group of priests and Levites, who were stationed just inside the gate, would respond to their request by singing the words of verse 20“This is the gate of the LORD.”  The group of priests who had requested admission then entered the gate.   

Even more interestingly, the group of priests who had requested admission were then greeted at the gate by a priest playing a flute; and this special priest was called the “pierced one”!  Who could have made that one up?  In Zechariah 12:10, the LORD Himself refers to Himself as “the one whom they have pierced.”  The “pierced one” who grants sinners admission into the “gates of righteousness” is none other than the God-Man, Jesus Christ! 

The Tabernacle/Temple was a giant picture of salvation.  Entering into the gates of the Tabernacle/Temple was a picture of entering into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  Only the righteous can enter through that “gate.”  However, that raises an important question: “Who are the righteous?”  How can anyone be called “righteous” when the Scripture makes it clear that no one is righteous (Psalm 14:2-3; Ecclesiastes 7:20)?  

The answer is: In order to be declared “righteous” by God, and to be allowed to enter into the “gate of righteousness,” God’s own righteousness must be imputed (or counted) to that sinner as Paul declares in Rom. 4:5-8.  That is why also Paul said that his desire was to “be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Philippians 3:9).  David understood this truth, as well.  That is why David proceeded to say “Thou (God) hast heard me, and art become my salvation.”   

We are not saved by our own righteousness.  Rather, Christ is righteousness and salvation to those who receive Him by faith.  As Paul said, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). 

Author: Unknown