Monday, May 16
Reader: “How wonderful and pleasant it is”
Response: “when brothers live together in harmony!
Scripture: Psalm 133
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.
How wonderful and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in harmony!
For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil
that was poured over Aaron’s head,
that ran down his beard
and onto the border of his robe.
Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
that falls on the mountains of Zion.
And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing,
even life everlasting.
Psalm 133 is in the next to the last group of psalms known as the Songs of Ascent. (120-134) They are grouped into five units of three, with this psalm being in the grouping which focuses on covenant (132), community (133), and sanctuary (134).
The generally accepted and most logical understanding is that this body of psalms were recited as Jews made one of the three yearly pilgrimages up to Jerusalem. (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles)
The reference to brothers could be those related by blood, professional colleagues, or committed relationships. Pleasant is a good word to describe tranquility. We’ve certainly all experienced how delightful it is when people’s relationships go smoothly.
A word about oil being poured over Aaron’s head. Oil was associated with joy and was often scented with various fragrances. Oil was used to anoint priests and kings in the First Testament. It was used to ordain and consecrate priests for holy ministry. Mentioning that it ran down his beard and onto his robe was indicative of his complete consecration. The oil empowered the anointed one with the power of the Holy Spirit for the task at hand. “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor” were the words of Isaiah. (Isaiah 61:1) The anointing with oil always indicated the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. It marked the anointed one as set apart for service to the Lord. Messiah means “anointed one.” The oil was a precious symbol of a holy task in this instance. Though it was perfume rather than oil, one can’t help but think of Mary, the sister of Martha, anointing Jesus, our High Priest, just prior to his crucifixion.
In the final reference, David likens unity to the dew on Mt. Hermon. We may not think much about morning dews. But in an arid world, every drop of moisture is precious. Lavish dew like that on Mt. Hermon speaks of divine blessing and refreshment. I know when we had a “dry spell” on the farm in the summer, we were glad whenever there was a heavy dew and the dew ran down the corn stock leaves. Hardly the same, but you get the idea!
You’ve noticed one recurring word in each of the short sections: harmony with brothers, harmony with anointing, and harmony that brings the refreshment of everlasting life. What makes harmony harmony? As you might guess, I want to reflect on harmony as it relates to Western music because there are theological implications in God’s invention of harmony. There are rules for harmony. Every one of seven notes in a key has a specific relationship to every other note in that key. Since there are twelve notes, this means five notes do not naturally fit into that key. But it is possible to work the harmonic structure so they can be added and still have beautiful harmony. They are called “accidentals” when that happens. Quite often they are used to help the “harmony” move to an entirely new key. The point is, all twelve notes have some sort of relationship. It is the skilled composer who is able to create the harmony. The Holy Spirit is the Composer who is able to create unity within the Body of Christ. He is able to take very different “notes,” some of which do not fit the “key” and orchestrate beautiful harmony in the church, bringing unity into the body of Christ.
Another factor in producing harmony is the element of time. It is possible to have all the right notes but have them out of sync. They all have to be going at the same tempo, the same speed. There are times when one note has to wait on another for the composition to move ahead. There are other times when they all need to take a “rest!” Frankly, rests build anticipation for what lies ahead and are essential in making beautiful music. There’s more but I need to stop! Suffice it to say, unity and harmony in the body of Christ, his Church, is glorious. In David’s words it is wonderful, pleasant, precious, and refreshing all of which is the result of the Lord’s blessing.
Music: “Benedictus” Karl Jenkins from “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace”
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in excelsis.
O Lord, I have heard a good word inviting me to look away to Thee and be satisfied. My heart longs to respond, but sin has clouded my vision till I see Thee but dimly. Be pleased to cleanse me in Thine own precious blood, and make me inwardly pure, so that I may with unveiled eyes gaze upon Thee all the days of my earthly pilgrimage. Then shall I be prepared to behold Thee in full splendor in the day when Thou shalt appear to be glorified in Thy saints and admired in all them that believe. Amen. ―A.W. Tozer from The Pursuit of God, p.98