Psalm 133-134: The Blessing of Unity!
July 9, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Unity is a much-undervalued commodity. And yet, when rightly grasped and applied, it is one of the most precious possessions of all. The apostle Paul urges us to make every effort to maintain the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” And this first psalm, Psalm 133, exults in the experience of such unity among fellow disciples of the Lord. “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (133:1).
What is such unity like? The images used to describe the experience of this unity are not immediately accessible to the modern reader. Verse 2, the unity is like oil coming down Aaron’s beard! Verse 3, it’s like dew falling on the mountains of Zion! The point of both of these images is that unity is something that, ultimately, comes down. The great mistake of all attempts to promote unity is to try to do it horizontally. We attempt to construct uniformity through talking about what we have that divides us, our differences, our arguments, and our conflicts. And of course, the normal result of such horizontal attempts at unity is at worst merely to underline what we have that is not in common, and at best to gradually increase friction between people of good will who would like to get along better than they actually do.
No, the right response to maintain unity is vertical. It is the “unity of the Spirit.” This is why unity, true unity, is never in conflict with doctrine, for the teaching of the Bible, the true God that we worship, and the unity of the Spirit are all what truly unite Christians. We have so little else in common – different ages, different races, different tastes and styles. But in Christ we are one. Therefore, in order to promote unity, we do it vertically. We do it by emphasizing what “comes down” (the oil on Aaron’s beard! The dew on the mountains of Zion!), so that now we experience unity in the blessing of God, ultimately in his Anointed One, Jesus the Christ, and in the bond of peace that we experience in him by the work of his Spirit.
If then, you are struggling to maintain unity with a brother or sister, the first thing to do is to pray for them. Then study the Bible with them. Then sing songs of worship with them. Bring the blessing of unity down, seek unity vertically (not horizontally).
Psalm 134: As if to emphasize the point, Psalm 134 now turns all our attention upwards! “Come, bless the Lord” (that is, praise the Lord, affirm that he is indeed blessed), “…lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord” (134:1-2). By lifting our hands up, we are physically, with the language of our bodies, saying that the one who is blessed is, as it were, “up,” and we seek the blessing that comes from God.
In other words, God really exists. Religion is not merely a human philosophy that uses “god” as an organizing motif to gain moral leverage over people. God is real. He really exists. And to seek him means to turn our attention away from the “flatness” of the this-life experience of so much of our daily lives, and turn our eyes, open our ears, lift our hands, raise our gaze, up, to him, to the God above all, and seek his blessing – the blessing of unity!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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