Psalm 133: How Good And How Pleasant

[Note:  This sermonette was given with a different intro condensed from a recent post [1] in Tampa on April 9, 2011 and was originally given as written in West Palm Beach on February 5, 2011.]


In Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, he as praying the following in John 13:11: “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are I the world, and I come to You, Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.” The unity of the brethren is something that is clearly important to God and Jesus Christ, for all of us who are called and chosen by God are one body. How important is unity to our incredible destiny? How much should it really mean to us? Today I would like to examine that subject in light of a deep examination of what the Bible says in Psalm 133.

How Good And How Pleasant

In Psalm 133, part of the Songs of Ascents that pilgrims to Jerusalem sang on their way to the Passover, Pentecost, and Feast of Tabernacles, David wrote a short hymn that we should all be very familiar with, as we sing it regularly in our hymnal. In Psalm 133:1-3 it reads: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forevermore.”

Unity should be very important to all of us here in this room. As we seek to enter God’s kingdom and acquire the character of God within us, we realize that our duty is not merely to obey God, but also includes obligations to love and serve our brethren, and to fellowship with them. To fully examine such obligations is far beyond the scope of a sermonette message like this one, but it is important to recognize that God does not call solitary Christians to be righteous alone, but calls children into His family who are to love and dwell at peace and harmony with each other, and tells us in John 13:34 that we will be recognized by our love for each other as Christians and as His people.

In the remainder of my brief time here today, I would like to examine the symbolism of Psalm 133 to show just how important unity among the brethren is to God. Though this is a familiar psalm to us, we may not be fully aware of just how serious and important a matter unity is to God, and therefore it would be worthwhile to examine the symbolism of Psalm 133 to demonstrate clearly just how important unity is to God.

The Precious Oil

The first symbol is that described in detail in Psalm 133:2, the precious oil that was poured on the head of Aaron. As the oil is described in the Parable of the Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13—you don’t need to turn there—as being symbolic of the working of the Holy Spirit within us, and as we will not enter the glorious wedding supper of Jesus Christ at His return without having our lamps full of oil, we ought to be immediately aware of the implications of the symbolism of oil for our spiritual destiny. Without this oil, we will not have eternal life.

The oil referred to in Psalm 133:2, though, has other profound meanings that may not be immediately obvious, so let us go to the book of Exodus to examine the origin of this particular symbol in light of the Church. In Exodus 30:22-33 we read of how this oil was made out of ingredients like myrrh, cinnamon, and olive oil. Let us focus on Exodus 30:29-30, though. Exodus 30:29-30 gives the following reasons for making and using this oil: “You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy; whatever touches them must be holy. And you shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister to me as priests.” The oil that was poured on Aaron and glistened on his clothing set him apart as a holy priest to serve the brethren of God.

We might be familiar with the passage in 1 Peter 2:9-10 that talks about how the Church is to be a holy priesthood to God, but we may be less familiar with the fact that this was also a promise that was given to ancient Israel. Since we are already in Exodus, let us turn to Exodus 19:5-6. In Exodus 19:5-6 God gives the following promise to ancient Israel: “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

This is an important passage for several reasons. For one, we should recognize that the same promise of being a kingdom of priests and a holy nation that was made to the Church in Peter 2:9-10 was first given to all of Israel here in Exodus 19:5-6. As we have seen that David in Psalm 133:2 connects brethren dwelling together in unity with the ordination of priests in service to the people of God, we ought to clearly understand that in order to be ordained by God as a priest forever, we are going to have to be able to dwell together in unity with our brethren. If we cannot dwell in peace and unity with our brethren, we will not be made priests forever by God and anointed to serve for all eternity in God’s kingdom. This is serious business, and we must take it seriously.

The Dew of Hermon

The second symbol used by David may be less familiar to us, but it is no less important. Psalm 133:3, as we recall, compared the unity of the brethren to the dew that descendents on Mount Hermon. I don’t know if you are all students of geography like me, but today I will provide a bit of a geography lesson for you all. Mount Hermon is the tallest mountain in Israel, and it is at the far north of the nation of Israel today, alongside its border with Syria in the Golan Heights. Even today, the dew that falls on this mountain is greatly important to the nation of Israel.

The reason why this dew is so important is because the source of the Jordan River, whose water is essential for the life of the people of Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan, all of which are exceedingly dry lands, primarily comes from the snowmelt and dew of that one mountain. Without rain falling on that mountain, these areas of the Middle East suffer tremendous droughts. Right now, in fact, as we speak, there is a terrible water shortage in the area of Israel because there has not been enough water coming down off of Mount Hermon for the thirsty people of the area. A lack of unity means a lack of water, and without water we cannot live. As water is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, just like oil is, this is also a very serious matter, as without the Spirit of God we will not see eternal life.


What do we make of all of this? Clearly, as oil and water are symbolic of the priesthood, of life, and of the Holy Spirit, we can see from a close examination of Psalm 133 that the unity of the brethren is something that is very important to God. Considering that we are all here in search of the blessing of life forevermore and to serve all eternity as kings and priests in the family of God, unity is something that is clearly of vital importance to us as well. Let it be said of us as David said in Psalm 133:1: “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”


About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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10 Responses to Psalm 133: How Good And How Pleasant

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