Psalm 133 - Pray For Unity
Psalm 133 ESV
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 NLT
How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!
For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron's head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe.
Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the LORD has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.
David expressed how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity. To ‘dwell in’ is to ‘live in’. It is easy to profess unity but to actually live in unity requires love. God is love, and we need God. Are we living in unity or are we just professing to be in unity? In the small groups that we’ve joined, or whatever communities we are a part of in Church, are we dwelling in unity?
Past hurts may hinder us from dwelling in unity, but if we remember that God is the healer, we can be healed and live in unity once more. David could possibly have written this psalm when he became the king of Israel. “Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, "Behold, we are your bone and flesh.”” (2 Samuel 5:1 ESV) The nation was divided and weakened because “the war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted for a long time.” (2 Samuel 3:3) Thus the declaration and the efforts made towards unity despite the hurts they had caused each other were important.
When we dwell in unity, the experience is good and pleasant. Good, even when times are bad, and pleasant even when we face troubles externally. God desires us to live in unity.
David compared brothers living in unity to that of the “precious oil on the head, running down on the beard... of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes”. To understand this imagery better, we explore the background of this oil.
The LORD said to Moses, "Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250, and 250 of aromatic cane, and 500 of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil. And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil... and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils and the basin and its stand. You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy. Whatever touches them will become holy. You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. And you shall say to the people of Israel, ‘This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. It shall not be poured on the body of an ordinary person, and you shall make no other like it in composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you. Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.'" (Exodus 30:22-25,27-33 ESV)
The oil specified by God was very precious, used only for consecrating the articles in the Tabernacle and anointing His priests. It was not to be poured onto any other person or articles, and they were not allowed to make any similar compound. Whoever made a compound like it would be cut off from his people. Aaron was the first high priest whom God appointed to be the connection between Him and His people. We now put Jesus in the place of Aaron, as we have direct access to God through Jesus. Imagine Aaron’s beard and all the way down to his robe were anointed, and the pleasant aroma that would diffuse from his presence. It would remind David of the presence of God.
Doesn’t a Church living in unity remind us of God? Jesus prayed for unity of the disciples. “And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:11 ESV)
Christians must remember Jesus’ command for unity so that the world knows God because of our love and unity. The Holy Spirit, more precious than the holy oil, has been poured out and dwell in Jesus’ disciples, to make it possible for us to live in unity. Do we remember the Holy Spirit is living in us? The problem with many of us is that we distance our mind from the Holy Spirit and walk away from one another. Walk with the Spirit and follow His desire for us to live in unity with one another. Through us, the world will know Him.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35 ESV)
When brothers dwell in unity, we will be reminded of God, as a unified group gives a sense of God’s presence. On the other hand, we feel God’s absence if the group professes to be unified but shows no evidence.
Ask the Spirit to help us love one another. Unity amongst us cannot be the work of the flesh; it has to come from the Spirit. When the Spirit calls us to be unified, hear His call and live in unity. To be honest, men are typically proud towards one another but they may respond if they know the calling is coming from God. Let’s call on each other to look up to God, to the Holy Spirit and to the cross of Jesus.
“It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion!”
Mount Hermon, at 2814 meters, is the highest point in Syria. It was known to be the Holy Place for worship. Snowmelt from the mountain flows to the Jordan River, providing its water. Zion was typically dry for at least six months each year from May to October. So dew that condenses on the plants is very important. David compared the unity of brothers to that of the water source for Zion, necessary for producing crops for the nation. To him, it was refreshing like dew to dry land, giving hope for a phenomenal harvest.
For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. (Hebrews 6:7 ESV)
Don’t we want to be part of a community that lives in unity? We can create such a community and God desires us to make it happen. The dew thus symbolises the Holy Spirit, poured out on us to enable us to produce fruits. Let’s drench ourselves in the ‘dew’ of the Holy Spirit to produce the fruits of the Spirit for all people to live in unity. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-23,25 ESV)
God’s dream is not only for the Christians, but also the world to become one. Our goal is to bear fruits for God’s people to know Him.
The scent of the oil and the freshness of the dew were used to express God’s satisfaction, which were beyond what David could describe in words. His closeness with God enabled him to see God’s desire. It hurts us to see disunity, doesn’t it? We too have the Holy Spirit to identify and feel disunity of any sort. Conversely, unity in the Church refreshes the soul and draws people to God. Through prayer and understanding of God’s purpose for us, we can then seek unity through His Spirit.
No one is better than the other. After all, the best one has humbly died on the cross for us. Let’s be humbled by Jesus’ sacrifice.
Pray for my heart to be aligned with God’s, and pray that I can understand what it takes to unify His people and me.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit.