This Week's Focus Passage

Dwelling in Unity

Focus Passage: Psalm 133

‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!’

That this blessed Psalm of David begins with such an exhortation as that involved in the word ‘Behold,’ should alert us to the importance of all which follows. While the word employed in this instance by David is hinneh, there are actually several Hebrew words that are rendered by our translators, Behold. David chose—the Holy Spirit chose—this word which contains the simple idea of ‘to see,’ however, Wilson adds, ‘mostly mentally or prophetically.’—Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies. We would likely have expected the choice to be one of the several other options that seem to involve more excitement or urgency in their appeal to look. One, again according to Wilson, bears the meaning, ‘to look earnestly;’ surely David would desire that we behold this matter earnestly. Yet other options suggest the idea of ‘to turn, to look,’ and, ‘to look about, to watch, to observe narrowly,’ which may imply our thought of ‘Stop, look, listen!’ Certainly, the sweet psalmist of Israel would have his readers to consider deeply and to weigh observantly what he will say. Then he had the choice of a word that means, ‘to see, look; the act of the senses.’ Again, we cannot imagine that David would not wish us to ignore our senses when we see and look at this theme. Another yet would be a word that connotes what seems to involve something of a catalogue of the above when Wilson defines it, ‘to view, to look with attention and earnestness, to survey with accuracy, as from a high situation.’

The topic both in the mind and heart of David in Psalm 133 has such a bearing upon the whole of our walk before the Lord and our fellow man, as well as before our fellow believer, is of such intense importance that the last definition above would seem to ascribe the only adequate and necessary importance to the direction given to ‘Behold.’ Yet the word of choice is that which suggests simply the act ‘to see,’ but importantly added, ‘mostly mentally or prophetically.’ David would have us to cry unto God to quicken our minds so that we would be enabled to have a grand understanding of what he wants us ‘to see.’ Can we not readily imagine him using the words of the apostles Peter and Paul—speaking by way of anachronism of course—when Peter challenged believers to ‘gird up the loins of your mind, be sober and set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.’—1 Peter 1:13; or when Paul exhorted us ‘Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth.’ William Gurnall has given us helpful counsel regarding the intention of Peter and Paul. He asks,

‘What is here meant by loins that are to be girt with this girdle?’ ‘It is our minds,’ he continues, ‘that must wear this girdle of Truth, and very fitly may our mind be compared to the loins. The loins are the chief seat of bodily strength. If the loins fail the whole body sinks.

‘Weak loins, then a weak man. Thus it is with our minds; if the understanding is clear in its apprehensions of truth then he is a strong Christian, but an uncertain mind is ever accompanied by feeble spirits. So just as our loins need a girdle for support, our minds need this girdle of truth, or else we shall do nothing vigorously.’

Let us witness, see mentally and prophetically, the wonder of the unity that is to be among brethren; how good and how pleasant it is, or how good and how pleasant it ought to be. Sadly, this ideal is not witnessed anywhere, anytime, in the degree of goodness and pleasantness of which David speaks. But even as we are not to yield to our weakness and inability in ourselves to be holy for God is holy, so we are not to yield anything in the striving after the desideratum of unity inculcated in this psalm. While it is true that when David speaks of the beauty of brethren dwelling together in unity, he has spoken of an ideal seldom, if ever, attained by any in this present life, God forbid we should ever be satisfied for it to be so. It is to our shame that there is some credence to the little ditty:

To dwell above with those we love; O that will be glory.

But to dwell below with those we know; now that’s another story.

David brings out that the unity spoken of is unity in Christ. Christ has plainly taught us that if we say that we love Him, we will love His people; they are our blood-bought brothers and sisters.

David brings this before us with the beautiful, perhaps enigmatic, picture of the anointing of Aaron. This unity to which he exhorts, or the love that is to be behind the unity, is like unto

the precious oil upon the head, That ran down upon the beard, Even Aaron’s beard; that came down upon the skirt of his garments; Like the dew of Hermon, that cometh down upon the mountains of Zion: For there Jesus commanded the blessing, Even life for evermore.

Who is our Great High Priest whose priesthood is infinitely higher than Aaron’s? And is He not ‘the head’ of His church upon whom came the anointing spoken of by Isaiah in 61:1, and cited by our Lord Himself in Luke 4:18, ‘The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me; because Jehovah hath anointed me to preach good tidings…’? He is the Head of His church; His people; His brethren: it is as He was anointed that the blessing came upon us; came down upon the skirt of His garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, that comes down upon the mountains of Zion: Hermon and Zion both representative of the church; His body, of whom He is the Head; His bride, of whom He is the Bridegroom. He commands the blessing for evermore. That blessing is, ‘how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.’ Where God reigns, the Son shines!

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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