“prime of my days.” The Hebrew word translated “prime” only occurs here and the meaning is uncertain. It seems to mean “half” or “middle” of my life, that is, in the prime of life, when I am still young.
“the gates of Sheol.” Sheol is the state of being dead, and there is no escape from it except by being raised from the dead by God. Because of that, Sheol is compared to a prison that has “gates” and from which no one can escape without God’s help. These “gates” are referred to as the “gates of Sheol” (Job 17:16; Isa. 38:10) and “the gates of death” (Job 38:17; Ps. 9:13; 107:18). Jesus Christ referred to the gates in Matthew 16:18 where in many versions they are translated as “the gates of Hell.”
[For more on these gates, see commentary on Matt. 16:18. For more on Sheol, see commentary on Rev. 20:13. For more on dead people being dead, lifeless in every way, see Appendix 4, “The Dead are Dead.”]