The Blessings of Brotherly Accord
1 A song of ascents. Of David.[b]
How wonderful and delightful it is
for brothers to live together in unity.[c]
2 It is like fragrant ointment poured on the head,
running down upon the beard,
running down upon the beard of Aaron,
and flowing on the collar of his robes.[d]
3 It is like the dew of Hermon
falling upon the mountains of Zion.[e]
For there the Lord has bestowed his blessing,
- Psalm 133:1 The fragrant oil of anointing and the beneficial dew—such images speak for themselves for a Palestinian; for the poet, they evoke the charm of a living community gathered together around the priests and Levites in the holy city on the occasion of a pilgrimage. The holy city (v. 3), the priesthood (v. 2), and the communion of brothers—all is newness of grace at this moment.
This psalm easily finds an appropriate place on our lips to proclaim the advantages of concord among Christians in the bosom of the house of God, the Church. John the apostle reveals the evils of discord. The person who hates another is a murderer and remains in sin and death. Such a person is not loved by God and can receive no gift from him (see 1 Jn 3:15-17). Fraternal love constitutes the sign of true faith and with it the key to all the divine goods (see Mt 22:34-40; Jn 13:34f; 15:12-17). Only this love manifests that we are true children of God, born of him, and at the same time true disciples of Christ (see Jn 13:35; 1 Jn 4:7).
- Psalm 133:1 Of David: these words, omitted from some MSS, refer to the reunion of the tribes of Israel at David’s anointing in Hebron (see 2 Sam 5:1ff).
- Psalm 133:1 The psalmist pronounces a blessing on those who live together in unity, as, for example, those on pilgrimage who included people from many different walks of life, regions, and tribes, coming together for one purpose—to worship the Lord in Jerusalem.
- Psalm 133:2 Brotherly accord is compared with the copious oil running down the head, beard, and robes of the priests who were anointed. Just as the holy oil poured on the priests consecrated them to the Lord’s service, so brotherly unity sanctifies God’s people. Thus, the fellowship of God’s people on earth is an expression of the priesthood of all believers (see Ex 19:6), promised to Israel and renewed for the Church in Christ (see 1 Pet 2:9f).
- Psalm 133:3 Dew of Hermon . . . mountains of Zion: because of its height (nearly ten thousand feet above sea level) and the rain, snow, and dew that fell atop it, Mount Hermon was famous for its rich foliage even during the dry summer months (see Ps 89:13; Deut 33:28; Song 5:2; Hos 14:6). Thus, the dew of Mount Hermon would make the mountains of Zion just as fruitful (see Gen 27:28; Hag 1:10; Zec 8:12). The psalmist indicates that no matter how harsh the conditions of the pilgrimage might be, the fellowship of God’s people was refreshing. For there . . . life forevermore: the divine blessing almost personified (see Lev 25:21; Deut 28:8) will procure happiness and salvation (see Pss 28:9; 36:11) in a definitive manner (see Pss 61:5; 73:26; Deut 30:16, 20).