Verse 8. Gilead is mine. Thankful hearts dwell upon the gifts which the Lord has given them, and think it no task to mention them one by one.
Manasseh is mine. I have it already, and it is to me the token and assurance that the rest of the promised heritage will also come into my possession in due time. If we gratefully acknowledge what we have we shall be in better heart for obtaining that which as yet we have not received. He who gives us Gilead and Manasseh will not fail to put the rest of the promised territory into our hands.
Ephraim also is the strength of mine head. This tribe furnished David with more than twenty thousand "mighty men of valour, famous throughout the house of their fathers": the faithful loyalty of this band was, no doubt, a proof that the rest of the tribe were with him, and so he regarded them as the helmet of the state, the guard of his royal crown.
Judah is my lawgiver. There had he seated the government and chief courts of justice. No other tribe could lawfully govern but Judah: till Shiloh came the divine decree fixed the legal power in that state. To us also there is no lawgiver but our Lord who sprang out of Judah; and whenever Rome, or Canterbury, or any other power shall attempt to set up laws and ordinances for the church, we have but one reply -- "Judah is my lawgiver." Thus the royal psalmist rejoiced because his own land had been cleansed of intruders, and a regular government had been set up, and guarded by an ample force, and in all this he found encouragement to plead for victory over his foreign foes. Even thus do we plead with the Lord that as in one land and another Christ's holy gospel has been set up and maintained, so also in other lands the power of his sceptre of grace may be owned till the whole earth shall bow before him, and the Edom of Antichrist shall be crushed beneath his feet.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 8. Ephraim also is the strength of mine head. As Ephraim was the most populous of all the tribes, he appropriately terms it the strength of his head, that is, of his dominions. --John Calvin.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 8. Judah is my lawgiver. Jesus the sole and only lawmaker in the church.