They that sit in the gate - At the gates were the courts for public justice; there were complaints lodged, and causes heard. No doubt many vexatious complaints were made against the poor captives; and false accusations, through which they grievously suffered; so that, literally, they were often "obliged to restore that which they had not taken away." See Psalm 69:4.
The song of the drunkards - These poor miserable people were exposed to all sorts of indignities. Though the conduct is base, the exultation over a fallen enemy is frequent. How miserable was this lot! Forsaken by friends, scorned by enemies, insulted by inferiors; the scoff of libertines, and the song of drunkards; besides hard travail of body, miserably lodged and fed; with the burning crown of all, a deep load of guilt upon the conscience. To such a life any death was preferable.
They that sit in the gate speak against me - The gates of cities were places of concourse; places where business was transacted; places where courts were frequently held. See the notes at Job 29:7. Compare Isaiah 14:31; Isaiah 28:6; Psalm 9:14. Calvin supposes that as the gates were the places where the judges sat to administer justice, the meaning here is that magistrates, or those who were high in rank and power, joined in the cry of reproach against him. The more probable interpretation, however, is, that he was subject to the reproach of those who were gathered around these places - the people of business, and the idlers who were assembled there; or, as we should say, that he was the subject of “towntalk.”
And I was the song of the drunkards - Margin, as in the Hebrew, “drinkers of strong drink.” They made ballads or low songs about me. They selected me for an example in their drunken songs. David was not alone in this. It has not been uncommon that the songs of revellers and drunkards have been designed to turn piety and the pious into derision. Compare, alas! some of the songs of Burns. See Job 30:9, note; Psalm 35:15-16, notes.