Sunday February 11
The Pleasantness of Unity
Psalm 133:1-3 A Song of Ascents. Of David.
1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!
2 It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments.
3 It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing-- Life forevermore.
Psalm 133 is the fourteenth of the fifteen “Ascent Songs” or “Pilgrim Psalms” and from the title we see that the writer was David. When David became king he was 30 years old and he inherited a divided nation and almost a civil war. He first was anointed king of Judah and Benjamin and ruled in Hebron for seven-and-a-half years. But then the Lord gave him a united kingdom (2 Sam. 5; 1 Chron. 12:38-40) and he ruled over all twelve tribes from Jerusalem for the next thirty-three years. He could well have written this psalm when he began his reign in Jerusalem.
The people of Israel usually journeyed to Jerusalem in family groups (see Luke 2:41-52) to observe their three special feast days, so this psalm perfectly suited the situation. It applies to individual believers and churches today, for we also have our "family quarrels" and need to learn to walk together in love. Maintaining the spiritual unity of God's people is the work of every believer, with the help of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:1-6). For God’s people to enjoy the pleasantness of unity we must experience at least three ministries of the Spirit that are illustrated in this psalm.
In verse 1, David called the people “brethren”. It was one thing for the Jewish clans to spend a few days together while traveling to Jerusalem and quite something else to dwell together at home for the rest of the year! Yet they all had a common ancestor in Abraham; they spoke a common language; they worshiped the same God; they were children of the same covenant; they shared a common land; and they were governed by the same holy law. Christians today have experienced being born again by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-6), worship the same God, declare the same gospel message, preach from the same Scriptures, and are headed for the same heavenly city. How sad though, that there is often more division among us than unity! Yet all of us know that spiritual oneness in Christ (Gal. 3:26-29; Eph. 4:1-6) is both "good and pleasant."
In verse 2, we can also experience the pleasantness of unity because we are anointed by the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament, this means that we are being filled by the Holy Spirit and under the control of the Spirit. When the high priest was anointed, the oil ran down his beard to the front of his body and over his collar. This suggests that the oil "bathed" the twelve precious stones that he wore on the breastplate over his heart, and this "bathing" is a picture of spiritual unity. When God's people walk in the Spirit, they forget about the externals and major on the eternal things of the Spirit. Externals divide us, gender, wealth, appearance, ethnic prejudices, social or political standing, while the Spirit brings us together and we glorify Christ.
In verse 3, we have a beautiful illustration of being refreshed by the Holy Spirit for our daily task. The Jews were basically an agricultural people and they depended on the early and latter rains and the dew to water their crops (Deut. 11:10-17). In Scripture, dew symbolizes the life-giving Word of God (Deut. 32:2), the blessing of God that brings fruitfulness (Gen. 27:28, 39; Deut. 33:13, 28), and God's special refreshing on His people (Hos. 14:5; Zech. 8:12). How often we need the refreshment of the Holy Spirit that comes silently but bountifully, like the dew upon the grass! When things are "dry," they begin to wither and fall apart, but when the dew comes, it brings new life and things hold together. Life means unity, death means decay, and the difference is the dew from heaven. Hebron in the far north was the highest of their mountains, nearly ten thousand feet, and Zion was one of the lesser mounts in the land. They were 200 miles apart, yet God sent His dew to both of them! Travelers report that in some parts of the Holy Land, the morning dew is like a hard rain that fell in the night, saturating everything. The dew speaks of fruitfulness and the anointing oil speaks of fragrance, for the unity of God's people is both "good and pleasant."
The word “there” in verse 3 no doubt refers to Jerusalem on Mt. Zion. “Salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22). It was “there” that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice that made it possible for us to have “peace with God”, and the experience “the blessing and life forevermore”. Both images, the oil and the dew, remind us that unity is not something that we "work up" but that God sends down by His Holy Spirit. When we get to the heavenly Zion (Heb. 12:18-29), there we will enjoy perfect unity. But why not seek to have that kind of unity today?