When this Psalm talks about "unity," I suspect that there is a backdrop that it isnít always so. When it occurs, there is an awareness of how "good and pleasant" it is.
We think of Jacobís twelve sons - from whom came the twelve tribes of Israel. They sold their brother Joseph into slavery in Egypt. When finally they had to come to Egypt to buy grain because of the famine, Joseph was the ruler of Egypt. They didnít recognise him and he used his position to test them out to see whether they had really changed.
After their second visit and he revealed himself to them, he sent them back home with instructions to come back with their father, their wives and children since there would still be another five years of drought. We read that Joseph sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he said to them, "Donít quarrel on the way!" (Gen. 45.24) His brothers had changed, and yet...
We think of Jesus and his disciples arriving in Capernaum. "When he was in the house, he asked them, ĎWhat were you arguing about on the road?í But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest" (Mk 9.33,34).
In the beginning of the book of Acts, we read that the disciples, reflecting on Jesusí promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit, still wanted to know "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1.6) My personal hunch was that the old ambition to be the greatest still hadnít gone completely at that point!
The Bible is a very realistic book. It has no pretence in its descriptions of its saints! From the standpoint of the Israelite people there was no hiding "skeletons in the cupboard." These things were not simply part of the personal traditional memory of each tribe. They were written down in Scripture for all to see!
"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" (Ps 133.1) We need to understand the realism of that statement.
But then the Psalmist goes on to give a very graphic picture of the anointing of Aaron as high priest. "It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaronís beard, down upon the collar of his robes" (v. 2).
The anointing oil represented his consecration to the work to which God had called him. The other priests were sprinkled with the anointing oil, but it was poured on Aaron.
There is a real implication that unity is imparted by the grace of God. We donít generate it ourselves, though we do have to be ready to receive it.
Mount Hermon, in the far north of Israel, is the highest mountain - over 3000 metres. It has snow on its peak all the year round. The dew that settles on its foothills is about the heaviest in the whole land. It is an important source of moisture during the long dry summers.
"It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore" (v. 3). Mount Zion is a reference to Jerusalem. That is the experience of the grace of God as the people of God gather together in unity.
Jesus wasnít giving some slick easy statement when he told his disciples to love one another (Jn 13.34,35). It is often much harder than it looks - it requires us to depend on the pouring out of the grace and blessing of the Lord.
|Prayer: Lord, you call us to love one another. Sometimes we find it easy. Often we discover that it is hard Ė because of ourselves and others! Help us to receive your love and grace that we may know the outpouring of your blessing and that your blessing will flow out to others too. In Jesusí name, Amen.|
Whatís that, Lord?
Help us all,
under your grace
Back to Sermons