Psalm 133 Dwelling in Unity

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the LORD has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore. (Psalm 133)

Psalm 133 is one of the “Songs of Ascent,” a section of the Psalms stretching from Psalm 120-134. While the precise meaning of this title is not certain, the likely function of these songs was to be recited as the Jewish people ascended the hill of Jerusalem to celebrate the annual festivals. King David, who inherited a divided kingdom, may have written this Psalm when he began his reign in Jerusalem. As the people poured into the holy city in anticipation of the sacred feasts, they set up tents that spilled down the hillsides like the oil that spilled down the robe of Aaron the high priest. The sight of all these people, diverse in many ways, yet united on a common pilgrimage, caused the Psalmist to reflect on unity as “good and pleasant.”

Unity is “good and pleasant” indeed. It is good in that it is fruitful, like the dew of Mt. Hermon. It is pleasant in that unity implies peace between individuals. This peace is only possible because we have peace with God through the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The oil used to anoint a priest like Aaron symbolized his consecration unto God. Unity consecrates us to God’s service. Intriguingly, the term “anointed one” in the Bible is where we get the word Messiah, and its New Testament equivalent, Christ.

A truly Messianic or Christian church is one that is united; this unity is a chief, God-ordained way in which we display Christ to the world. Any threat to the unity of God’s people is a threat to the very gospel that unites us. The Puritan John Flavel remarked, “What! At peace with the Father, and at war with His children? It cannot be.” Let us endeavor to dwell together in unity!

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