Verse 2. Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion. The pronoun "his" comes in where we should have looked for the name of God; but the poet is so full of thought concerning the Lord that he forgets to mention his name, like the spouse in the Song, who begins, "Let him kiss me," or Magdalene when she cried, "Tell me where thou hast laid him." From the mention of Judah and Israel certain critics have inferred that this Psalm must have been written after the division of the two kingdoms; but this is only another instance of the extremely slender basis upon which an hypothesis is often built up. Before the formation of the two kingdoms David had said, "Go number Israel and Judah," and this was common parlance, for Uriah the Hittite said, "The ark, and Israel and Judah abide in tents"; so that nothing can be inferred from the use of the two names. No division into two kingdoms can have been intended here, for the poet is speaking of the coming out of Egypt when the people were so united that he has just before called them "the house of Jacob." It would be quite as fair to prove from the first verse that the Psalm was written when the people were in union as to prove from the second that its authorship dates from their separation. Judah was the tribe which led the way in the wilderness march, and it was foreseen in prophecy to be the royal tribe, hence its poetical mention in this place. The meaning of the passage is that the whole people at the coming out of Egypt were separated unto the Lord to be a peculiar people, a nation of priests whose motto should be, "Holiness unto the Lord." Judah was the Lord's "holy thing," set apart for his special use. The nation was peculiarly Jehovah's dominion, for it was governed by a theocracy in which God alone was King. It was his domain in a sense in which the rest of the world was outside his kingdom. These were the young days of Israel, the time of her espousals, when she went after the Lord into the wilderness, her God leading the way with signs and miracles. The whole people were the shrine of Deity, and their camp was one great temple. What a change there must have been for the godly amongst them from the idolatries and blasphemies of the Egyptians to the holy worship and righteous rule of the great King in Jeshurun. They lived in a world of wonders, where God was seen in the wondrous bread they ate and in the water they drank, as well as in the solemn worship of his holy place. When the Lord is manifestly present in a church, and his gracious rule obediently owned, what a golden age has come, and what honourable privileges his people enjoy! May it be so among us.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 2. Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion. These people were God's sanctification and dominion, that is, witnesses of his holy majesty in adopting them, and of his mighty power in delivering them: or, his sanctification, as having his holy priests to govern them in the points of piety; and dominion, as having godly magistrates ordained from above to rule them in matters of policy: or, his sanctuary, both actually, because sanctifying him; and passively, because sanctified of him ... This one verse expounds and exemplifies two prime petitions of the Lord's Prayer. "Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come": for Judah was God's sanctuary, because hallowing his name; and Israel his dominion, as desiring his kingdom to come. Let every man examine himself by this pattern, whether he be truly the servant of Jesus his Saviour, or the vassal of Satan the destroyer. If any man submit himself willingly to the domineering of the devil, and suffer sin to reign in his mortal members, obeying the lusts thereof, and working all uncleanness even with greediness; assuredly that man is yet a chapel of Satan, and a slave to sin. On the contrary, whosoever unfeignedly desires that God's kingdom may come, being ever ready to be ruled according to his holy word, acknowledging it a lantern to his feet, and a guide to his paths; admitting obediently his laws, and submitting himself alway to the same; what is he, but a citizen of heaven, a subject of God, a saint, a sanctuary? --John Boys.
Verse 2. Judah was his sanctuary, etc. Reader, do not fail to remark, when Israel was brought out of Egypt the Lord set up his tabernacle among them, and manifested his presence to them. And what is it now, when the Lord Jesus brings out his people from the Egypt of the world? Doth he not fulfil that sweet promise, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world"? Is it not the privilege of his people, to live to him, to live with him, and to live upon him? Doth he not in every act declare, "I will say, it is my people; and they shall say, the Lord is my God"? Matthew 28:20 ; Zechariah 13:9 . -- Robert Hawker.
Verse 2. Judah was his sanctuary. Meaning not the tribe of Judah only, though they in many things had the preeminence; the kingdom belonged to it, the chief ruler being out of it, especially the Messiah; its standard was pitched and moved first; it offered first to the service of the Lord; and the Jews have a tradition, mentioned by Jarchi and Kimchi, that this tribe with its prince at the head of it, went into the Red Sea first: the others fearing, but afterwards followed, encouraged by their example. In this place all the tribes are meant, the whole body of the people. --John Gill.
Verse 2. One peculiarity of the second verse requires attention. It twice uses the word "his", without naming any one. There are two theories to account for this circumstance. One is that Psalm 114 was always sung in immediate connection with 113, in which the name of God occurs no less than six times, so that the continuance of the train of thought made a fresh repetition of it here unnecessary. But this view, to be fully consistent with itself, must assume that the two Psalms are really one, with a merely arbitrary division, which does not, on the face of the matter, seem by any means probable, as the scope of thought in the two is perfectly distinct. The other, which is more satisfactory, regards the omission of the Holy Name in this part of the Psalm as a practical artifice to heighten the effect of the answer to the sudden apostrophe in verses five and six. There would be nothing marvellous in the agitation of the sea, and river, and mountains in the presence of God, but it may well appear wonderful till that potent cause is revealed, as it is most forcibly in the dignified words of the seventh verse. --Ewald and Perowne, in Neale and Littledale.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 2. The church the temple of sanctity and the domain of obedience.