Eugene Peterson said, “No Christian is an only child”, and that’s exactly the point David makes as we come (almost) to the end of our series!
Psalm 133 begins with the phrase, “How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!” On the surface, we’re like, “um – yeah, no duh”! Especially if we are a close knit family, because goodness knows “family life” can get messy! And it’s sort of interesting to know that families had issues even back then, isn’t it? Look at Cain and Abel; Joseph and his brothers, the prodigal son and his brother, even Jesus and his family – who at one point tried to get him to give up on his ministry because they thought he was crazy! Dysfunctional families have been around as long as humans have!
But on further inspection here, and with a little digging, we find out that the Psalmist (in this case, David) isn’t necessarily just talking about family unity – he’s talking about full-on, everyone-in-community unity – and most specifically, community and unity within the Christian church.
How do we know that’s what he’s talking about? Well, the first clue comes in the form of a simile he uses in verse two about unity being like oil poured over Aaron’s head and down his beard, etc. (You can read the whole Psalm 133 by clicking here!)
My first thought when I read that was – eeeewwwww. It’s like when you are watching someone who has a beard eat and crumbs get stuck in it…you know what I mean?! But again, like many of these psalms, it’s meant to trigger a memory here, not gross us out! Aaron (he was Moses brother, incidentally) was anointed as the first, most high priest at that time, over all the 12 tribes of the Diaspora. And one of the ceremonial rituals that was performed was to anoint him with warmed oil, poured over his head. That story was so well known to the Israelites, that elusion would’ve given them an immediate word picture to let them know the psalmist wasn’t talking about siblings getting along, rather he was referring to all factions of the “church” coming together as one!
The next bit goes on to give us another poetic look at unity through David’s eyes! This time, he likens unity to the morning dew on Mount Hermon and flowing down Zion. Everyone at that time would’ve been aware that, because of the altitude of Mount Hermon, morning dew at the top of the mountain was intense and thick, and would soak anyone through to the bone! So this visual is meant to show us that the unity of the church need to infuse us to the core.
Also, using Mount Hermon (which is in the North) and Zion (which is further south, geographically speaking) together in the same image, gives sort of a metaphor this time of two different places coming together to show unity (not uniformity, mind you, as two different places cannot be exactly alike, can they?!).
And then, here comes the blessing part of the psalm! In the final verse, David says, “YES! That’s where it all comes together and where God commands his blessing on all – and that blessing is life forever more!” In other words, God proclaims his highest blessing, eternal life, on us when we are at one with one another!
Stick with me here, because I DO have a point!
This particular psalm, like no other, is so poignant for US – fellow travelers on this faith journey together. We are not the same. We come here for different reasons, with various backgrounds and traditions. We have vastly different needs for which we need help and prayers, and we have beautifully different gifts to offer each other along the way.
THAT is the beauty of this group of fellow pilgrims, right?!
Standing shoulder to shoulder, sometimes in spite of differing opinions and quirks, in an effort to support one another when things are rough, and to celebrate when things are good – all in the name of the One who put us here in the first place, to bring him Glory and blessing through our lives lived out in community.
And just like the oil dripping down Aaron’s crazy beard and the dew rolling down the sides of the mountain, this faith walk we are on together has an amazing trickledown effect.
In terms of Christianity and our faith, Christ is the head of our church and His descending to us, becoming man, dying, and rising again gives us the blessing of salvation and eternal life.
But what if we took those beautiful similes and applied them directly to our own lives? For each person reading this, let me assure you that you touch the lives of many others outside of this group. We’ve talked about that before. But this puts that fact into a different light, doesn’t it? The trickle you start at the top of your mountain becomes a crazy, full on flowing stream down the sides of it, and picks up even more momentum as it continues to travel and merge with the other small streams flowing around it.
And the next thing you know, we’re all drinking from the same living water and with our amazing God commanding His blessing over us.
I want you to read the psalm with the middle sort of taken out of it so you can hear something cool:
Is that so awesome?! In other words, when we are one – when we are united – we get the greatest blessing of all: a little slice of heaven right here on earth. Wanna piece? Me too.
Let’s pray together:
Lord, our spirits fill with joy when we are all getting along! We feel like we can overcome anything! Unity makes us feel like everything is coming together – like you have descended down into our midst! And THAT gives us delicious taste of heaven! Thank you Lord, that you would bless us so greatly. In Jesus name, Amen!
On a personal note, I want to dedicate this post in loving memory of my friend, and beloved friend to many, Merilee Turner. You embody what it means to be a Godly wife, mother, and friend. See you in heaven, sweet sister friend. You understood unity on a soul level, my dear. Thank you for being you.
Peace, love, and Joy,
Up Next Week: Experience His Peace!!