Psalm 114:2
Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion.
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(2) Judah was.—Better, became. The feminine verb shows that the country is intended, and not the tribe, and the parallelism directs us to think not of the territory of the tribe of Judah alone, but of the whole country. Notice the art with which the name of God is reserved, and the simple pronoun, His, used. (Comp. Exodus 19:6.)

114:1-8 An exhortation to fear God. - Let us acknowledge God's power and goodness in what he did for Israel, applying it to that much greater work of wonder, our redemption by Christ; and encourage ourselves and others to trust in God in the greatest straits. When Christ comes for the salvation of his people , he redeems them from the power of sin and Satan, separates them from an ungodly world, forms them to be his people, and becomes their King. There is no sea, no Jordan, so deep, so broad, but, when God's time is come, it shall be divided and driven back. Apply this to the planting the Christian church in the world. What ailed Satan and his idolatries, that they trembled as they did? But especially apply it to the work of grace in the heart. What turns the stream in a regenerate soul? What affects the lusts and corruptions, that they fly back; that prejudices are removed, and the whole man becomes new? It is at the presence of God's Spirit. At the presence of the Lord, not only mountains, but the earth itself may well tremble, since it has lain under a curse for man's sin. As the Israelites were protected, so they were provided for by miracles; such was that fountain of waters into which the flinty rock was turned, and that rock was Christ. The Son of God, the Rock of ages, gave himself to death, to open a fountain to wash away sins, and to supply believers with waters of life and consolation; and they need not fear that any blessing is too great to expect from his love. But let sinners fear before their just and holy Judge. Let us now prepare to meet our God, that we may have boldness before him at his coming.Judah was his sanctuary - His home; his abode; his sacred dwelling-place. Judah was the principal or leading tribe, recognized as the tribe where power was to be concentrated, and from which the Messiah was to proceed Genesis 49:8-12; and hence, the name was early used to denote the entire people, and ultimately, as modified in the word Jews, became the common name of the nation.

And Israel his dominion - The nation that he ruled; the nation that had his law; the nation that he governed by his presence - or, of which he was the recognized king. There can be no doubt that the reference here is to God, but it is remarkable that the name "God" is not used. Perhaps the reason may be that this psalm was designed to be employed in connection with the preceding one, and as that consists entirely of the praises of God, it was not necessary to repeat the name when his praise was to be continued under another form, and in connection with another line of thought.


Ps 114:1-8. The writer briefly and beautifully celebrates God's former care of His people, to whose benefit nature was miraculously made to contribute.

1-4. of strange language—(compare Ps 81:5).

Judah, or Israel, as it is explained in the next clause; one tribe being put for all; which is a common synecdoche. Judah he mentions as the chief of all the tribes, not only in number and power, but also in dignity, in which the kingdom was to be seated, Genesis 49:10, &c., as at this time it actually was, and from which the Messias was to spring. His, i.e. God’s, which is easily understood from the whole context, and from the nature of the thing.

Sanctuary; or, holiness; the people of God’s holiness, as they are called, Isaiah 63:18; or, his holy people, as Deu 26:19 Daniel 8:24; sanctified or set apart from all the nations of the world to be his peculiar people and possession. His dominion, in a peculiar manner, to be governed by his laws, and honoured with his special presence and favour.

Judah was his sanctuary,.... Meaning not the tribe of Judah only, though that in many things had the preeminence; the kingdom belonging 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: but rather all the tribes are meant, the whole body of the people; for this is not to be understood of the tabernacle or temple in the tribe of Judah, sometimes called a sanctuary; for neither of these were in being when Israel came out of Egypt; but it may be rendered, "Judah was his holiness" (u), or was holiness to the Lord, the Lord's holy people; see Jeremiah 2:2, not all internally holy; for there were many that came out of Egypt that were unholy, rebellious, and disobedient, and whose carcasses fell in the wilderness; but externally, when brought out of Egypt they were separated from all other people, and in this sense sanctified, and became a holy and special people, chosen by the Lord to be so; with whom, he made a covenant, and to whom he gave holy laws and righteous statutes: and in this they were typical of those who are effectually called by grace with an holy calling, and unto holiness; have principles of grace and holiness wrought in them, and have Holiness to the Lord written upon them; they have the sanctification of the Spirit, and Christ is made sanctification to them; and they are the Lord's sanctuary, in which he dwells.

And Israel his dominion: for, though all the world is his kingdom and his government, yet the people of Israel were in a very particular and remarkable manner his dominion; from the time of their coming out of Egypt to their having a king, their government was properly a theocracy; God was their King, and by him they were immediately ruled and governed, and had a body of laws given them from him, and were under his immediate care and protection, Exodus 19:5. In this they were typical of the saints called by grace, who are then translated from the power of Satan into the kingdom of Christ; whom they acknowledge to be their Lord and King, and whose laws, commands, and ordinances, they willingly observe; the people of God are often represented as a kingdom, and Christ as King of saints; the Targum is

"the congregation of the house of Judah was united to his holiness, and Israel to his power.''

(u) "sanctificatio ejus", Pagninus, Vatablus; "sanctitas ejus", Gejerus, Michaelis.

Judah was his {b} sanctuary, and Israel his dominion.

(b) The whole people were witnesses to his holy majesty in adopting them, and of his mighty power in delivering them.

2. Judah became his sanctuary,

Israel his dominion (R.V.).

The division of the lines is rhythmical not logical. Israel became Jehovah’s sanctuary and dominion. No contrast is intended between Judah and Israel, as though one was preeminent as the centre of religious life, the other as the chief civil power, but for the sake of the parallelism the whole nation is designated by its two principal divisions in later times as in 1 Kings 4:20, and often. By His act of Redemption Jehovah consecrated it to be His dwelling place, and marked His choice of it as His kingdom. See the fundamental passage in Exodus 19:3-6; and cp. Exodus 15:13; Exodus 15:16; Deuteronomy 4:20; Deuteronomy 7:6 ff; Deuteronomy 32:9 ff.; 1 Kings 8:51; Hosea 13:4; Amos 3:1-2; Jeremiah 2:2-3 : &c.

It is commonly noted as an indication of the poet’s art that the simple pronoun His is used, and the name of God not introduced till Psalm 114:7, as though to excite the reader’s curiosity. The suggestion is fanciful. “The whole of the preceding Psalm had been saying who the object of their praise was” (Kay); and the two Psalms were probably intended to be used liturgically together, as we know they actually were used. Moreover a Hallelujah preceded the Psalm as in the LXX, and supplied the antecedent for the pronoun.

Verse 2. - Judah was his sanctuary; or "became his sanctuary;" Judah - i.e. the land of Judah - received the special honor of being chosen for the seat of God's sanctuary. And Israel his dominion. While all the rest of Israel was accepted as constituting his kingdom or dominion. The whole people came under God's special protection. Psalm 114:2Egypt is called עם לעז (from לעז, cogn. לעג, לעה), because the people spoke a language unintelligible to Israel (Psalm 81:6), and as it were a stammering language. The lxx, and just so the Targum, renders ἐκ λαοῦ βαρβάρου (from the Sanscrit barbaras, just as onomatopoetic as balbus, cf. Fleischer in Levy's Chaldisches Wrterbuch, i. 420). The redeemed nation is called Judah, inasmuch as God made it His sanctuary (קדשׁ) by setting up His sanctuary (מקדּשׁ, Exodus 15:17) in the midst of it, for Jerusalem (el ḳuds) as Benjamitish Judaean, and from the time of David was accounted directly as Judaean. In so far, however, as He made this people His kingdom (ממשׁלותיו, an amplificative plural with Mem pathachatum), by placing Himself in the relation of King (Deuteronomy 33:5) to the people of possession which by a revealed law He established characteristically as His own, it is called Israel. 1 The predicate takes the form ותּהי, for peoples together with country and city are represented as feminine (cf. Jeremiah 8:5). The foundation of that new beginning in connection with the history of redemption was laid amidst majestic wonders, inasmuch as nature was brought into service, co-operating and sympathizing in the work (cf. Psalm 77:15.). The dividing of the sea opens, and the dividing of the Jordan closes, the journey through the desert to Canaan. The sea stood aside, Jordan halted and was dammed up on the north in order that the redeemed people might pass through. And in the middle, between these great wonders of the exodus from Egypt and the entrance into Canaan, arises the not less mighty wonder of the giving of the Law: the skipping of the mountains like rams, of the ills like בּני־צאן, i.e., lambs (Wisd. 19:9), depicts the quaking of Sinai and its environs (Exodus 19:18, cf. supra Psalm 68:9, and on the figure Psalm 29:6).
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