Thursday, October 17, 2019

Psalm 133: The Blessings of Unity

"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1).

Psalms 120–134 are called “Psalms of Ascents.” We don’t know for certain why these psalms are given this name. Perhaps the thought is that they “ascend” to God as praise, though this is true of all the Psalms. Traditionally, it has been held that these psalms were sung as pilgrims approached Jerusalem to attend one of the great feasts. It is possible to see these psalms as a series of steps toward Jerusalem.

Psalm 133 is a wisdom psalm that celebrates the oneness of God’s people. Notice how this unity is described. It is not a unity created by people getting together and compromising with one another. Rather, it is born as a result of people being drawn together by a greater influence. The psalm expresses this by means of two analogies.

First, unity is like the anointing oil that was poured on Aaron and flowed down his beard onto his robes. Oil is a common symbol of God’s influence on man through the Holy Spirit. Aaron, of course, as high priest represented the spiritual unity of Israel and pictured the great High Priest, Jesus Christ. Thus, the picture is that God creates unity by anointing His Messiah (messiah means “anointed”), and the divine anointing flows from the head of the Messiah down onto His robe, which represents His people. In plain language: God gathers us into unity around Jesus by means of the Spirit, who proceeds from Himself through Jesus to us.

Second, unity is like the dew of heaven falling on God’s holy mountains. Water again is a common symbol of God’s gift of the Holy Spirit and of new life. Dew comes down from heaven onto the top of God’s mountain, where His temple is found, and then flows down the mountain. The mountain is where God’s people gather and receive His blessing as they hear His Word.

In Genesis 11 God scattered the wicked at the Tower of Babel, lest in their sinful unity they became too powerful. In John 17 Jesus prays that we may all be one. Christian unity is extremely important because it creates power in ministry. As members of one body, we can lean on one another and support one another. The more unified the church becomes, the brighter the light of her witness will be and the more effective her work will be.

Sometimes believers are too zealous for Christian unity. Luther, who wanted unity, said, “Peace if possible, but purity at all costs.” What are some examples where unity has been purchased at too dear a price?