Psa. 133:0 A Song of degrees of David.
Three times each year the men of Israel were to come to the temple and present themselves before the Lord.
Deut. 16:16 Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:
The fifteen Psalms that are called the songs of degrees (elevation, journey to a higher place, go up) were to be sung as they ascended the temple mount.
Psa. 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
We aren’t told when David wrote this Psalm, but it would seem to have been at a time of peace in his life and that of his nation. I would think that every person who has ever lived on planet earth would recognize the truth of this statement, so it makes you wonder why division rather than unity is the norm.
Webster defines unity as “1. To delay, to linger. 2. To abide, to remain, to continue. 3. …to live in a place.” The first definition really struck me; we usually think of this word in terms of the 3rd definition. It made me think of spending an evening with good friends that you just don’t want to end, so you stretch out the fellowship as long as possible.
We usually think of brethren as referencing our relatives, which it does; but it can also be used to describe a group of people with something special in common. David had reason to appreciate its meaning fully in both aspects. His family was quite dysfunctional at times, and he definitely experienced difficult times with the people of Israel as a whole. When he finally did get to enjoy a time of “unity” in the family and/or nation, he knew that it was a time to enjoy and treasure.
Unity is one of the key points of concern that Jesus has for His family of faith. His prayer to the Father recorded in John 17 (which is one of my favorite passages in the Word) is quite clear in that regard.
John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
John 17:21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
John 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
John 17:23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
Why is unity among the body of believers so important? The answer is given in verse 21 and 23—“that the world may believe that thou has sent me,” and “that they may be made perfect in one.” He even answers why the Father sent Him—to show His love for those that serve Him in faith, love and obedience.
Psa. 133:2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
Psa. 133:3 As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
Verse 2 is referencing the oil that was used to anoint the vessels of the temple and the priests. It was a special fragrance that was forbidden to be used in any other way.
Ex. 30:25 And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil.
Ex. 30:26 And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony,
Ex. 30:27 And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense,
Ex. 30:28 And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot.
Ex. 30:29 And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy.
Ex. 30:30 And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.
Ex. 30:31 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations.
Ex. 30:32 Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you.
By comparing unity to the anointing oil, he was describing it as something very valuable.
By comparing unity to the dew he was declaring it to be conducive to growth and prosperity. The dew is one of the sources of nourishment for strong and healthy plants. Unity always promotes healthy growth, strength and prosperity—be it in families, nations, organizations, etc.
The obvious application for us today is to the Church, the body of believers. Sadly, unity is not a word that describes the Church of today; division and factions are more accurate descriptions of the condition of today’s church. Until we are ready to embrace the truth of the Word of God as a whole with boldness and without excuse in individual lives, the church will never experience true unity. The prayer of Jesus will, of course, one day be answered, but Oh the blessing that we are missing and the souls that we are losing because of our refusal to serve Christ as LORD! To serve Him as LORD is to serve Him according to His commands and principles—not our version of them.