The Beauty of Unity

Father Lee reflects on the message of unity found in Psalm 133

by Father Lee Davis on June 19, 2024

The Beauty of Unity

Oh, how good and pleasant it is, *
when brethren live together in unity!

2 It is like fine oil upon the head *
that runs down upon the beard,

3 Upon the beard of Aaron, *
and runs down upon the collar of his robe.

4 It is like the dew of Hermon *
that falls upon the hills of Zion.

5 For there the Lord has ordained the blessing: *
life for evermore.

Psalm 133, the Psalm appointed for this Sunday, is a brief yet profoundly moving piece of scripture that celebrates the beauty and blessings of unity among people. At just three verses, it encapsulates a powerful message that resonates across generations, cultures, and contexts.

With the opening verse, “Oh, how good and pleasant it is, when brethren live together in unity!” the psalmist immediately establishes the theme of unity as something deeply desirable and inherently good. In a world often marred by conflict and division, these words serve as a timeless reminder of the joy and harmony that come with unity.

The next two verses use metaphors to describe this unity. In the second verse, the psalmist likens unity to fine oil.  Anointing oil was a symbol of consecration and blessing in ancient Israel. It was used in the anointing of priests and kings, signifying God's favor and the setting apart of individuals for a holy purpose. The mention of Aaron, the first high priest, emphasizes the sacredness of unity. The oil flowing down from Aaron's head to his beard and onto his robes symbolizes the all-encompassing and overflowing nature of unity. It is not confined or limited; it spreads and blesses everything it touches.

The third verse introduces another vivid metaphor. Mount Hermon, located to the north of Israel, was known for its abundant dew. This dew was essential for sustaining vegetation in an otherwise arid region. By comparing unity to the dew of Hermon, the psalmist highlights its life-giving and refreshing qualities. Just as the dew nourishes and revitalizes the land, unity among people brings vitality and renewal to communities.

The Psalm concludes with a powerful declaration of blessing, “For there the Lord has ordained the blessing: life for evermore.” Unity is not only pleasant and good, but it also carries with it a divine blessing. The Lord commands the blessing of eternal life where unity is present. This underscores the spiritual significance of unity, tying it to the ultimate promise of life everlasting. It suggests that unity is not merely a social or relational ideal but is integral to the spiritual well-being and eternal destiny of God's people.

In contemporary society, the message of Psalm 133 is as relevant as ever. We live in a time marked by polarization and fragmentation, whether it be in politics, religion, or social issues. The psalm's call to unity challenges us to seek common ground, to cherish our shared humanity, and to work towards reconciliation and peace.

Unity does not mean uniformity; it does not require us to erase our differences. Rather, it invites us to embrace diversity within a framework of mutual respect and love. The metaphors of anointing oil and dew remind us that true unity is enriching and life-giving. It is a force that can heal wounds, bridge divides, and create a thriving community.

Psalm 133 offers a vision of unity that is both beautiful and profound. It encourages us to strive for harmony in our relationships and communities, reminding us of the blessings that flow from living together in unity. As we reflect on this psalm, may we be inspired to pursue unity with renewed vigor and commitment, recognizing it as a source of joy, strength, and divine blessing.

Tags: faith, unity, diversity

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