David wrote this Psalm. It is one of the fifteen songs of degrees of which Hezekiah wrote ten, David four and Solomon one. Despite its brevity, it is a spiritual jewel. The main lesson of the psalm is to show the beauty of unity. This unity implies oneness of spirit, awe, and interests within the Body of Christ, which is made up of diverse individuals. On the fundamentals we must agree. In matters of less importance there should be liberty for differing viewpoints. The assembly that agrees on the basics and yet disagrees on subordinate issues without being disagreeable is guaranteed God’s presence, power and blessing.
Psalm 133:1 - “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” This was the state that God desired for Israel (see Numbers 24:2-6). He also desires this unity for His church (see Acts 2:42). The Lord delights in the unity of His people and pours out His blessing upon them. It is also the state which Satan fears most and he and his divisions work day and night to destroy.
As the shadow of the Cross began to fall heavily across the Lord’s path, He prayed for the unity of His Church. He prayed that they might be one – specifically, “that they may be one even as we are one.” See John 17:21-22. This unity, this oneness, is what the Holy Spirit accomplished when He baptized each believer into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13 and Ephesians 4).
There is one body and one Pentecost. This unity was evident in the infant Church. They were in one place and they continued with one accord in prayer and supplication (see Acts 1:14). This means that they were all in agreement. They were as one as they waited for the coming of the Spirit. As the Church grew they were bonded together: rich and poor, slaves and freemen, great and small, young and old, educated and uneducated. They had all things in common. There, the Lord commanded a blessing. [Describe the great days of the beginning of our movement.] There was blessing and rapid growth. After twenty years the whole thing was blown apart. Unity, even today, is a rare and exotic plant. It is an endangered species. All this is true, despite the fact that God says, “it is good and pleasant for brethren to dwell together in unity, there I command my blessing.”
David’s Illustrations: The Anointing of Oil and the Dew
David uses two illustrations to show how good and pleasant unity is in God’s eyes. The first illustration, the anointing of oil, is taken from the sacred realm, while the second illustration, the dew, is taken from the secular world. He says, “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 garment.” David brings to our attention the anointing of Aaron, Israel’s first High Priest. He mentions five things about the anointing:
1. The oil was poured on Aaron’s head (see Leviticus 8:12) - This speaks of the uniqueness of his position. He was the recognized heart of the religious nation. Aaron is a type of the Lord, who is the Head of the Church. The Lord was anointed by the Spirit (see Hebrews 1:9). “Anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows.” The glory of the majesty and the fragrance of His person fill the heavens and the earth.
2. The oil ran down over Aaron’s beard: Aaron was a real man - As a type he speaks of the manhood of our Lord, who though perfect man was also perfect God. See 1 Timothy 3:16, which speaks of the mystery of the hypostatic union. Aaron, by his anointing, stood out from all other men; in the same way, the Lord stood out from all created beings in unsurpassed excellence. He is without equal and beyond compare. “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Men and women from all walks of life were drawn to Him. There was a magnetic power and a fragrance about Him that was inexplicable. He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. He was loving, gracious, kind, forgiving, and generous. Everywhere He went the perfection of His Deity and humanity shone forth. Some examples include: The multitude of Capernaum, the money changers, and the disciples in the stern of the ship. Strong men left their careers to follow Him, even to death. Devoted women loved Him and served Him. The children were unafraid of Him and received His blessing. He was a real man. He was God manifest in flesh - Emmanuel, God with us.
3. The oil ran down onto Aaron’s garments - Aaron’s garments were the garments of a working priest. The Lord Jesus came into this world as a servant. Mark 10:40 says, “He came not to be ministered unto but to minister.” He came with a Calvary ministry, which He fulfilled with Calvary love and He has a continuing ministry at God’s right hand.
4. The oil ran down to the skirts of Aaron’s garments - The skirts of Aaron’s garments reached down to the ground. As a type, this depicts the stupendous stoop of the Lord Jesus, who left heaven’s highest glories and came into earth’s lowest depths.
2 Corinthians 8:9 “You know the grace of the Lord Jesus.”
Philippians 2 “He was made like unto His brethren.”
Hebrews 2 “We see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels.”
Hebrews 4:15 “He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”
Hebrews 4:16 “We can come to Him and “obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
His ministry for His own is loving and caring. His mercy is compassionate and kind.
5. Aaron was a type of Christ - As the anointed one and the Mediator between God and man, he reminded others of Christ. As he served God and the people, the fragrance of that unique perfume emanated from Him. As the Lord served God and man there was an air of mystery about Him. There was an un-worldliness about Him that baffled the intellect. It forces us to ask the questions: Are we like Christ? Do we show Him in our lives? Does the fragrance of this Person flow through us? There was nothing on earth that brought more joy to God than to see a prepared priesthood functioning in His appointed way, and a united people worshipping and serving Him. It was in such conditions that God commanded the blessing.
Let us now consider the ingredients and the making of this perfume. This perfume was made of four spices: myrrh, sweet cinnamon, sweet calamus, and cassia. These were mixed with oil. Careful instructions were given as to the weight of each spice and the amount of oil to be used. Everything was to be mixed and bound together by the oil. This was a perfume that was not to be duplicated; it was for God’s use alone. Its fragrance was confined to the Tabernacle. The vessels of the outer court were anointed with it. The furniture of the Holy Place was anointed with it. In the Holy of Holies the ark and the Mercy Seat were anointed. The Tabernacle environment was enveloped in this unique fragrance. Aaron and his sons were anointed with it. They could not come into God’s presence with the odor of the flesh on them. They had to be washed with water, then anointed with this unique ointment.
The application is that each believer has been anointed by the Spirit to be a “sweet-smelling savor of Christ in a foul-smelling world.” Believers have been washed with the water of the Word – cleansed from all sin – and anointed with the Spirit. One should be able to say, “Truly they have been with Jesus.”
As was mentioned previously, the second illustration David uses is from the secular world. Unity in God’s eyes is like the dew of Hermon that descended upon the mountains of Zion. In that hot Mediterranean climate, dew is vital to the sustenance of plant life. When David mentions Hermon, figuratively, he is referring to the ten northern tribes. When he mentions Zion, he is referring to the two southern tribes. In this verse he envisages the united nation of Israel being saturated with the life-giving blessing of God.
Dew is formed in the night season. It falls to the earth when the world is still and at rest and brings joy, life and fruitfulness to a parched world. Restless energy, ceaseless activity, and endless striving cannot produce this unity that God desires for His people. The dew “type” of the Holy Spirit cannot be manufactured by fleshly means. He falls upon God’s people when they are submissive, quiet and still before Him (see Psalm 46). He brings love, joy, abundant life, and fruitfulness to a waiting church. David ends the Psalm with a pertinent statement, “There the Lord commanded the blessing,” even life forevermore.”
Unity and the Lord’s Blessing
God’s Holy Spirit is grieved and quenched by a squabbling church. Where there is quarreling and murmuring, souls are not saved. Young believers do not grow in the Lord. The secret of growth spiritually and numerically is when those in fellowship, “Love God, love each other and love the lost around them.” In these pristine conditions God bestows His blessing. “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. There the Lord commanded the blessing.”
David loved unity. He came from a divided family and knew the disadvantages associated with this. He was distressed to see Israel divided and torn apart with internal strife. In their weakness they were harassed by their many enemies. They also were suspicious of one another. Despite the magnitude of this task, with the Lord’s help, he united the tribes and welded them into a united kingdom. David brought cohesion to the nation when he centralized everything in Jerusalem. David knew that true unity is centralized in the living God. He planned for the Temple to be built to weld the people together as one. David knew that true unity could be obtained through faith in the living God and obedience to His Word. It was when Israel was united under David that God commanded the blessing. Israel was never greater in her long history.
After David’s death, Solomon in his backslidden condition undermined the foundation David had laid. Jeroboam, Solomon’s son, shattered this unity. He led the northern tribes in open revolt. He taxed the people to death and he also introduced calf-worship to the nation. He changed the feast days, corrupted the priesthood, and forsook temple worship. Israel became apostate and came under God’s judgment. Then along came Hezekiah. Hezekiah saw that the nation needed to be reconciled to God and united; the old divisions needed to be healed. Under God he spearheaded one of the greatest revivals in Israel’s history. The people came from the northern and southern kingdoms united in heart and voice to worship God in the beauty of holiness. God blessed the nation again. “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity, for there the Lord commanded the blessing.”
The way of transgressors is hard (see Proverbs 13:15). If proof were needed of the truth of this verse we need only read the daily newspapers: A Nazi war criminal who had escaped detection and capture in South America for 35 years committed suicide. The fear of being caught and probable execution made living unbearable. Three men who demanded $90,000 ransom from his son kidnapped a 74 year-old man at gunpoint. The son is a reputed drug dealer, currently fleeing from the police. A police captain falsely reported that his car had been stolen. He hoped to collect insurance on it. He was an outstanding officer and was likely to become chief one day. Now he has been dropped from the force and awaits a criminal investigation. One criminal knew the truth of the verse. He had proved that sin’s built-in consequences are inescapable. I repeat, “The way of transgressors is hard.”
Finally, consider this: One of the most poignant moments during the coronation of Her Majesty, the Queen, in Westminster Abbey was when the crown was about to be placed upon her head and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the chief citizen of the country, called out four times towards each point of the compass in the Abbey - “Sirs I present to you the undoubted Queen of this realm. Are you willing to do her homage?” Not until a great affirmative shout thundered down the nave of Westminster Abbey four times was the crown placed upon her head.” Now I say to you my brethren and sisters, “I present unto you Jesus Christ as your undoubted King and Lord.” Are you willing to do Him homage?”