This week we are continuing our study of the shorter psalms, and considering number 133 this time. It reads,
See how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to live together in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil on the head, that ran down on the beard, even Aaron’s beard; that came down on the edge of his robes; 3 like the dew of Hermon, that comes down on the hills of Zion: for there Yahweh gives the blessing, even life forever more.Psalm 133:1-3
The beginning of this text probably makes sense to many of us. Don’t we all want to live in unity? I would expect so! On the other hand, the passage also describes things that may not be immediately understandable. For instance, what is with the oil running down Aaron’s beard? What about the dew of Hermon?
Those are good questions, and we’ll take a look at each of them in a moment. In the meantime, let’s consider the concept of unity.
Living Together in Unity
The beginning of the psalm gives us the reason for its writing. It is attributed to King David, and he speaks of how good and pleasant it is to live in unity. He has good reason to be grateful for it! Looking back at his life, we read of many times when he had conflict with others. His challenges with Saul immediately come to mind. In a broader sense, we understand that the psalm is discussing unity among Jewish people. This is recognizable by references to Aaron’s beard and the hills of Zion.
Thinking about unity for us today, we should have an appreciation and desire for it as Christians! Remember, David said it is good and pleasant! We need to be grateful to God that we can enjoy such a blessing!
Consider the alternatives,
- Many people do not live together with other loved ones.
- Others suffer from difficulties that make them feel isolated or rejected.
- Some have fallen into sin to the point of routinely committing evil.
In contrast to the above, we have moments of joy and peace, relationships with others, and opportunities to do acts of goodness. All of these are blessings of having a life together with our brothers and sisters in the faith. Such moments are only fully realized if we do have unity among ourselves.
The Oil That Ran Down Aaron’s Beard
As the psalm continues, two images are employed to help illustrate the goodness of unity. Verse 2 mentions how it is like oil that ran down Aaron’s beard. At first glance, it is possible to just think of this oil in relation to abundance. However, it isn’t just plain olive oil. Rather, it is surely a reference to the holy oil that is described in Exodus 30:22-25. There are also many instances where Aaron’s anointing is mentioned in the scriptures. Some examples include Exodus 29:7, Leviticus 8:12, and Leviticus 21:10. This isn’t just for the High Priest. The tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant, the table, lamp, and the altar of burnt offerings were all anointed with holy oil.
There is a reason that I am stressing these anointings. Holy oil was often used in relation to worship of God. I seriously doubt that the reference to oil is just to teach us about abundance! Rather, I think of the joy that comes from being able to approach God and set apart as a member of His family. If Aaron was never anointed then the people of Israel would be unable to worship the Lord acceptably.
However, because he was anointed, Aaron had the joy of worship, and approached God on behalf of His people!
The Dew of Mount Hermon and Zion
As the psalm comes to an end, another analogy is shared. Like the oil that came down Aaron’s beard, the dew of Hermon comes down as well. Like before, this may also cause us to think of abundance, especially if we remember that dew can cover large areas of land. In verse 3, both the mountains of Hermon and hills of Zion are mentioned.
Remarkably, this final verse also reminds us of Israel’s special place with God. While Aaron was related to the Jewish people being able to worship God, the reference to Mount Zion points us to the location of God’s blessing.
This is explicitly stated as such. We read the words, “for there Yahweh gives the blessing” right after David speaks of the hills of Zion. After the Temple was built in Jerusalem, worship of God was done at a specific location. Sacrifices were offered there, and the High Priest officiated.
Life Forever More
In of itself, this worship was a great blessing, but the psalm ends with something else. The blessing. That being, life forever more. This was available to those who worshipped God acceptably at the hills of Zion and followed those whom He anointed.
Today we don’t have to worship God at a specific location, but the blessing still comes from a particular place. That being the person of Jesus Christ. If we are in Christ, we are a child of the Father, and can enjoy unity with Him! With this comes life forever more!
As we grow in unity with God, we can also have unity with the saints, and enjoy that good and pleasant blessing.