When Brothers Dwell in Unity
A Song of Ascents. Of David.
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,
Psalm 133 Commentary
by Hank Workman
From within corporations to households to the church, unity is what continually sustains and moves people forward boldly. It is something only the Holy Spirit can bring. For as we know and have possibly experienced, when there is disunity there is stress and chaos. The corporate world is turned upside down when employees are disgruntled and do everything they can to bring an industry down. The family is shredded as members work against one another through jealousy and hate. The church is completely ineffective when people look out for their own interests rather than the interests of God or even of others.
On the last night of His life, Jesus prayed one of many beautiful prayers. One such was for His followers then and in the future that they would be one in unity.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one,Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”John 17:20-21
Unity matters to Jesus because He knows it is what is witness to His transformation of His people to the watching world. Unity is what helps the church go forward on the trek He has established. Unity is what brings about His glorious blessing and strength.
David knew unity was a precious commodity throughout his life. He had lived without it with all the turmoil and had lived with the benefits of. He knew how important it was which is why in this short psalm he prayed for it.
Max Lucado writes:
“Nowhere, by the way, are we told to build unity. We are told simply to keep unity. From God’s perspective there is but “one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16). Unity does not need to be created; it simply needs to be protected.”Max Lucado
The reality is it impossible to agree on everything with one another but our response. The key is to not let our differences set us in conflict with one another. As the Life Application Bible states: We are called to work together for the common cause of Christ with our outward expression reflecting our inward unity of purpose.
Psalm 133 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Through Jesus, the Holy Spirit has been poured out over us. Like a priest who would be anointed by a fine oil, we as believers have been abundantly blessed by the Holy Spirit. This was predicted long ago through the words of Ezekiel.
I will no longer hide My face from them, for I will pour out My Spirit on the house of Israel.” This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.Ezekiel 39:29 HCSB
With the Holy Spirit’s arrival, unity is present among His people. As Hank has written, this is a command to keep unity under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Like a spotlight directing our eyes to what’s important, the Holy Spirit always points to Jesus. Those who are not walking in the Spirit are not walking in obedience to Jesus Christ. In this way, we can hold ourselves and others up to the image of Jesus to determine if we are indeed “walking with the Spirit.”
For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance. You know what kind of men we were among you for your benefit, 6 and you became imitators of us and of the Lord when, in spite of severe persecution, you welcomed the message with joy from the Holy Spirit.1 Thessalonians 1:5-6 HCSB
A follower of Jesus is an imitator of Jesus. The Spirit both wills and empowers us to accomplish that growth. If we do not see that within ourselves, we may be quenching the Spirit. If we do not see it in others, it may be time for a Matthew 18 moment. Interestingly, this leads me to think over the verses that follow the accountability structure in that same chapter.
I assure you: Whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven. 19 Again, I assure you: If two of you on earth agree about any matter that you pray for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.”Matthew 18:18-20 HCSB
Through the power of the Spirit, we have the authority to bind and loose. The early Christians would have understood this to correlate with the authority given to the Pharisees. This “forbidding and permitting” was given to the teachers of the Law because there were many issues not outlined in black and white. For example, they could bind any day and make it a fasting day if they so desired. Jesus was very critical of the fact that the Pharisees were quick to “tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them” (Matthew 23:4). They took advantage of their authority by “binding” people all the time. It is important to consider that the Holy Spirit had not yet been sent.
The spiritual authority to bind and loose simply means we have authority to “bind” those who are arrogantly persisting in sin without consequences and “loose” humble and repentant followers from the burdens of their sin. The context of Matthew 18 sets this as the primary interpretation given the entire passage is about accountability within the body (not necessarily demonic strongholds as many assume). Heaven agrees because it is clearly stated that those who repent are forgiven and those who go on sinning have mocked Jesus’ sacrifice. Jesus is full of both grace and truth and the Spirit testifies to these as we walk in step with Him. To those who have been given much, much is expected and required. Those who walk in the Spirit will fulfill this commandment.