Psalm 133 King James Version
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
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 garments;
As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
Psalm 133 is the last of the four attributed to King David in the title: A Song of Ascents. Of David. We don’t know exactly when David composed this song, but one likely occasion was when David was finally received as king over all the tribes of Israel, ending a terrible season of national division and discord.
Read this reflection on Psalm 133 after you have read God’s Word.
One of the unique teachings of the Bible is that our love for God and our love for others are closely connected. The apostle John asserted that, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4.20). The true religion—even in its Old Covenant expression—is not about rituals flawlessly executed but about relationships between people.
As the pilgrim worshipers approach Jerusalem to worship in the temple, they are reminded of this when they sing Psalm 133:
“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, life forevermore” (Psalm 133.1–3).
True believers who share a common faith in their covenant-keeping God acknowledge that they share a bond that transcends earthly and physical ties.
Yet the psalm says more than that. The singers refer to a specific sign of unity: “the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes” (Psalm 133.2). The simile is significant: it pictures the ordination of a priest—a male descendent of Aaron, the brother of Moses—when at his consecration to the priesthood, fragrant oil was poured on his head (Exodus 30.22–33; Leviticus 8.12). This oil symbolized his dedication as a member of a fraternity who could provide access to for themselves and others through the sacrificial system.
Yet it was God’s intention that the whole nation would be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19.6). Through their united obedience to the LORD, they would function as those people who would be mediators for the rest of the world. This would require a consciously pursued intention to fulfill their destiny to be a blessing to “all the families of the earth” (Genesis 12.3).
What the Old Covenant pointed toward as a goal is fulfilled under the New Covenant. Christ, the true High Priest, has fulfilled all that the Aaronic priesthood pointed toward. Paul’s words to Timothy, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2.5), assure us he is the only priest we need for full access to God. Through him, all who believe become “a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2.5, 9). Like the Aaronic priests of old, we share together in a fraternity who are called to become the means of blessing to the world.