Weds 10th May - Psalm 133
A song of ascents. Of David.
1 How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
2 It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down on the collar of his robe.
3 It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
even life for evermore.
Meditation on Psalm 133
A short psalm but a psalm full of meaning for the people of God – that’s you and me.
The theme of this psalm touches every aspect of our Christian lives in relationships with each other.
There are examples through the Old and New Testaments that pick up the theme.
Jesus talked about it with His disciples.
The New Testament letters have many calls to practise this theme.
VERSE 1 THE BLESSING OF UNITY
Read and meditate on this verse. ‘How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.’
We are God’s people, having been brought into His world-wide family through his death and resurrection. This has nothing to do with denominationalism where there are matters of doctrine over which we may not agree. Having been brought up in the exclusive brethren (the very title gives the game away!), it’s a joy to be with the people of God, to worship together, to work together and to be together as the people of God without labels!
It has everything to do with who we are as children of the living God, born again into His family and looking forward to the day when we will be with the Lord for ever.
This is not a sentimental journey with the people of God. No, it’s just as Jesus prayed.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:20-23 (bold added)
There are many verses that talk about unity. Here are just a few to think about.
2 Chronicles 30:12 ‘Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the LORD.’
Romans 12:4-5 ‘Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.’
1 Corinthians 10:1 ‘I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.’
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 ‘The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptised by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.’
This is a challenge to each of us. Clearly there are certain things over which we must agree to differ when it comes to doctrine and practice. And, so often our fallen human nature causes us many challenges in our relationships with other believers.
We must remember that to live in unity is good and pleasant.
VERSES 2-3 THE FRUIT OF UNITY
What a wonderful picture of the effect of our unity as fellow Christians.
Firstly, the concept of precious oil – not just any oil being poured on the head.
Come back to Exodus 30:22-25 where the LORD gives instructions about this anointing oil. ‘The LORD said to Moses, “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels (about 6 kilograms) of liquid myrrh, half as much of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant cane, 500 shekels of cassia – all according to the sanctuary shekel – and a hin (about 4 litres) of olive oil. Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer.”’
As the oil was poured on to the head, so the fragrant oil would run down and perfume the clothes. Others would notice the fragrant effect. So others would notice the unity and peace that pervades wherever we are.
Likewise, the ‘the dew of Herman’. Vast swathes of Israel are dry and parched. Mount Hermon is on the coast and the dew falls on the mountain top. The psalmist mentions Mount Zion in particular because that is where the temple was and was a place where the tribes of Israel would come to worship the LORD. It was a place of fellowship and worship. It was, as one African commentator writes, ‘It was the place where God poured out his blessings on Israel. It is there that life flows for ever.’ We look forward to that great and glorious day when, with the Lord in glory, we will know His blessing, ‘even life for evermore.’
This psalm may focus on the harmony across the tribes of Israel but it also looks forward to our families, our communities and our churches.
Paul is very aware of this need of the blessing of unity and the fruit of unity.
2 Corinthians 13:11 ‘Finally brethren, good-bye. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.’
Ephesians 4:1-6 ‘As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.’
Philippians 2:1-4 ‘If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interest of others.’
Colossian 3:12-15 ‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love which binds them all in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since, as members of one body, you were called to peace. And be thankful.’
The Message translates verse 1 as ‘How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!’
We use the words of the chorus as we end.
Bind us together, Lord, bind us together
With cords that cannot be broken.
Bind us together, Lord, bind us together,
Bind us together with love.
There is only one God, there is only one King;
There is only one Body, that is why we sing.