A devotional on Psalm 133
1 Behold, how good it is, when brothers dwell together in unity!
It is such a wonderful and rare thing that we must stop and marvel when we see it. My good friend Spurgeon says, “It is a wonder seldom seen, therefore behold it! It may be seen, for it is the characteristic of real saints – therefore fail not to inspect it! It is well worthy of admiration; pause and gaze upon it! It will charm you into imitation, therefore note it well!”
Good means pleasurable, excellent, the best, prosperity. Pleasant means sweet, delightful, lovely. Those terms remind me of the wonderful piece of scripture, “Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart.” Philippians 4:8.
What a rich blessing. We’ve learned that our senses are the gateway to sour soul. They are the sentinels of the heart. Allow them to observe and let harmony right on in for depositing into our minds. This is how we nurture our mind, our heart, our soul. This is how we love the lord our God with all our heart, and soul, and strength and our brother as ourselves. It is good and pleasant.
Guzik makes an excellent point, “Not everything that is good is pleasant, and not everything that is pleasant is good. Unity among God’s people is such a remarkable blessing because it is both good and pleasant – and both to a high degree.” To which theologian Trapp adds, “Communion of saints is the next happiness upon earth to communion with God.” Revel in it, beloved!
2 It is like the precious oil on the head, that ran down upon the beard, even the beard of Aaron, that went down to the skirts of his garments.
“And you shall take some of the blood that is on the altar, and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and on his garments, on his sons and on the garments of his sons with him; and he and his garments shall be hallowed, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him,” Exodus 29:21.
The word for precious – tob – is the same word as ‘good’ in verse 1. We know that this oil is costly and very special. That is why all that was needed was a sprinkling. It was used by hosts upon welcoming their guests to their home, to acknowledge the privilege of having them and to infuse a pleasant aroma upon the road-weary and not so fragrant guests in a culture where body odor may have been a fact of daily life.
Further, the oil in the Temple was sprinkled on the high priest as an anointing or setting apart from what was evil and a consecration to God and what is holy. Oil is representative of Holy Spirit. Here, it is not just sprinkled but lavishly applied to overflowing till drips down Aaron’s beard and to his garments. Most Bible versions say it ran to the collar. KJV says it flows down to the skirts of his garment and skirts – peh – mean the mouth. Could it be as the mouth of a river, which is its ending point? If so, the oil flows not just to the collar but to the hem!
In the Hallel Psalms (113-118) we studied three groups of people God identified as greatly blessed: the house of Israel, the house of Aaron, and those who fear the Lord. Let’s focus on Aaron here for a moment. Aaron was Moses’s brother. He and his descendants received the priesthood from God. Aaron means “light bringer.” It is the role of the priest to represent God, the light, to man who is in darkness. We made the point that you, believer in Jesus, belong to the house of Aaron. To that end, Jesus said, “you are the light of the world,” Mt. 5:14. Peter declares, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light,” 1 Peter 2:9. Amen, Aaron?
The massive band of pilgrims spends a lot of time together heading towards the Temple. I can see how fatigue and prolonged proximity among a passionate people can lead to relational flare-ups. Harmony is the oil, the lubricant of social intercourse among these weary travelers. As they near Jerusalem, they ascend the hill and finally the steps to the Temple, the very presence of God. Our verse said, 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! As they do so, Holy Spirit – their expectant host descends to meet them. He is thrilled that his company has arrived, he runs down the steps, as it were, to greet and receive them. O, how sweet it is, and how prosperous!
In the New Testament, Jesus quotes Is. 61:1 and declares, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners,” Luke 4:18. We take up his mantle when we go about the business of attending to these three mandates. The afflicted are in darkness, the brokenhearted are in darkness, the captives and prisoners and are in darkness. Turn on the light for them, Aaron!
3. As the dew of Hermon and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion, For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.
Harmony is a function of unity which is our ultimate calling. Jesus prayed, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in ss, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me,” Jn. 17:20-23.
We are called to nurture this unity by living at peace with one another, as much as it depends on us. That said, this unity is a gift of God and not an achievement on our part. We can’t drum it up. It is a blessing we receive from being in the family of God so that we enjoy deep affection and love for one another. Behold, how good and how 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.