The Joy of Brotherly Love (Psalm 133)

Scripture Reading – Psalm 133

I am unsure why today’s scripture reading assignment consists of only one brief Psalm; however, it is poetic, beautiful, and inspiring.

Psalm 133 is ascribed to David as “A Song of Degrees” (the same inscription found in Psalms 120-134). Scholars suggest the “degrees” referred to the ascension of pilgrims coming up to Jerusalem for one of the Hebrew festivals. The same scholars surmise the psalms were sung by believers making their pilgrimage to the Tabernacle in David’s time, and later to the Temple after its construction during Solomon’s reign.

I am of a different opinion. Understanding the psalms were songs of worship led by the priests and Levites in the Temple, I believe the psalms inscribed as “A Song of Degrees” were sung by the priests as they ascended the steps of the Temple Mount to offer sacrifices and entered the Temple to worship the LORD.

Without any more adorning on my part, consider the beauty of this psalm as a celebration of the joy of brotherly love and unity among God’s people.

Psalm 133:1 – Behold, how good [precious; pleasing] and how pleasant [sweet; charming; delightful] it is for brethren [of kindred spirit] to dwell together [alike; altogether] in unity [togetherness]!

We are by nature beings who long for fellowship, and when that fellowship is sweetened with the joy of unity and mutual love for the LORD, there is nothing sweeter.

What is the nature of this love that bonds and unites the hearts of believers?

Psalm 133:22  It is like the precious [pleasing] ointment [oil; i.e. olive oil often perfumed] upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments [the robes worn by the high priest];

Brotherly love is an abundant love, an overflowing love like the anointing oil that ran from Aaron’s head, down his beard, and over his garments. Like the sweet scent the high priest carried on his beard and robes, so is the lingering sweet fragrance of brotherly love and fellowship.

Psalm 133:33  As the dew of Hermon [a mountain north of Israel], and as the dew that descended [come down] upon the mountains of Zion [upon which the city of Jerusalem was built]: for there the LORD commanded[put in order; charged] the blessing, even life [living] for evermore [everlasting].

Like the perpetual dew that shrouded Mt. Hermon (its moisture was carried down by the winds to the arid mountains of Zion), brotherly love and unity is the blessing the LORD sends down upon His people. Brotherly love is an enduring, constant, self-sacrificing love.

The mark of a sincere believer is expressed in not only his love for God, but also his love for the brethren: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another”(John 13:35).

What sorrow when brotherly love and unity is lost.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith