Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity! (
If you knew that you would die tomorrow, what would be on your mind? What would you pray about? It might vary from person to person—but, one thing I can guarantee—it would not be something trivial. We know what Jesus was thinking and praying about as He stood in the shadow of
just hours before He would be nailed to a cross. He prayed for His people to be one (see John 17). If this was on the heart of Jesus at a time
like that, then it must be a priority and passion for us. This is the theme of Christ’s ancestor,
David, in Psalm 133.
We are confronted immediately and forcefully with GOD’S DESIRE FOR UNITY (v.1a). “Behold” is an exclamation. It is an arresting word—a word of passion. This calls attention to something important! It is meant to express the desire of God for unity. It speaks of “how good” and “how pleasant it is.” “How” much indicates the immeasurable value of unity. Unity is good for it is the expression of the One who alone is utter goodness—God Himself. Within the One Triune God, there are three Persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is infinite love, perfect unity, and utter harmony in this relationship. It is pleasant for unity restores the harmony of paradise before sin disrupted relationships.
Next, we are pointed to GOD’S DESIGN FOR UNITY (v.1b). What is unity? There is a false unity that says, it doesn’t matter what you believe or how you behave—just love one another. It has one great virtue: tolerance. In the same chapter where Jesus prayed for unity, He also prayed that we would be sanctified by the truth of God’s Word and kept pure from a sinful world—so obviously unity isn’t at the sacrifice of conviction. Unity isn’t uniformity. Some churches try to impose rules and make everyone conform to a certain way of looking and acting. The church, however, isn’t an organization—it’s an organism—we’re different parts! There is room for debate and discussion, so long as we do so in love. Unity is about being in a family. We are “brethren.” We “dwell” together. That is we maintain our closeness. We are “together” in the essentials. Ours is a common faith—the Apostle’s doctrine (
This psalm culminates with GOD’S DESCRIPTION OF UNITY (v.2-3). Unity is described as anointing oil (v.2). It unleashes fragrance. This perfumed oil was made of myrrh, cinnamon, sweet calamus, and cassia blended together in olive oil. Aaron was anointed with it—the oil generously flowing down—so that the fragrance was pervasive. Unity is like that—you can smell its sweetness. Frankly, some churches stink. When the decay and dissolution of a body comes, there is an awful odor. Are people attracted or repulsed by us? Unity is also described as morning dew (v.3). It produces fruit. In that arid climate, there were only a couple of brief rainy seasons in spring and fall. Gardens would burn up in summer had it not been for the ample dew. Dew comes in stillness not storms. It distills when atmospheric conditions are right. A fruitful church requires three essentials for a climate of unity: love for the Lord, love for each other, and love for the lost.
May we unite our hearts with our Lord by praying for hearts united in our fellowship and mission!