Lent Devotional: Psalm 133
by Jonathan Haefs
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the LORD has commanded the blessing,
Your feet hurt.
It seems like you’ve been walking forever. How much further could it possibly be? Sure, there is a feast at the end, but the trip itself seems longer than you remember.
Then… all around you… your relatives and neighbors began to sing. You have all been journeying together and now, as their voices begin to rise, you feel the call to join in the song and sing together as you go up to the holy city… to Jerusalem. And so, you sing…
“Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”
Psalm 133 is a song of ascent. It’s one of many songs that would be sung as pilgrims traveled “up” or “ascended” to Jerusalem for one of their annual feasts. And, this particular song not only encourages travelers toward solidarity in their journey, but points to one of the essential purposes of their gathering.
These feasts unified the people! Unity is an amazing blessing in community! Like the oil poured on Aaron’s head so long ago when he was ordained as the first high priest of Israel. That oil symbolized the blessing of the Lord being poured out! Or, we might say it is like the due poured out upon the side of the great Mount Hermon… dew which brings and sustains life where it otherwise would not grow. The dew is a life-giving blessing!
This is what unity is to community! It is a life-giving blessing! It is good and pleasant when it is poured out upon a people… but it goes even further than that!
The oil poured upon Aaron’s head ran down his beard to his robes. The dew from Mount Hermon runs down to water the mountains of Zion… and unity in community overflows as a blessing to the watching world!
As the people of God gathered together in Jerusalem, united in their worship, their unity was to serve as a witness to the world of the one true God! They did not seek unity just for themselves, but for the blessing of all!
The communities of our world know very little of what true unity looks like… so when the people of God gather in unity, they become a light that shines bright into the darkness of the world.
As the church, we are united to one another in Christ… and oh how good and pleasant it is when we sacrifice ourselves for one another that we might dwell in unity as a cruciform community! Such unified love overflows and runs down to the world like the blood of Christ from the cross. The world gets a glimpse at what the love of Jesus looks like.
This is my prayer for us today… it was and is the prayer of Jesus himself for us his people… John 17:20-21, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, THAT THEY MAY ALL BE ONE, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, SO THAT the world may believe that you have sent me.”