Tom Lowe


Psalm 133 (KJV)

 Title: How Pleasant to Live Together in Unity!


Psalm 133


  1. {A Song of degrees of David.} Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
  2. It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
  3. As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there, the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.



When Israel’s priests are ordained, they are anointed with oil concocted from a special formula. It is sacred and not used for any other purpose (Ex.30:30-33). The high priest, as in Aaron’s case, is dressed in his official priestly uniform, including a breastplate on which the names of the twelve tribes are found (Ex. 28:21, 29; Lev. 8:1-13).

This would have been the image in David’s mind as he wrote Psalm 133. The first time this special ceremony had been performed, the oil was poured on Aaron’s head to consecrate him for service. David feels the same sense of wonder when he thinks of the unity of his people coming together to honor and serve their Lord. Maintaining the spiritual unity of God’s people is the work of every believer, with the help of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:1-6). Perhaps this psalm was written in response to the uniting of the kingdom after David had struggled for several years to bring together those who supported him with others who would rather have had a second king from Saul’s family.



  1. {A Song of degrees of David.} Behold, how good and how pleasant it is forfor brethren to dwell together in unity!

The word “behold” indicates, possibly, that some lovely manifestation of unity was taking place under the psalmist’s eyes: perhaps in connection with a great religious festival. It was probably written by David to celebrate the glad reunion of the nation after its long disunion during the times of the Judges and the opening years of his reign.

How good and how pleasant ─Brethren of Christ must be brothers of each other (Mark 3:35). It is not enough, however, to be one: we should take every opportunity of manifesting our unity to the world ─dwell together. Agreement does not mean uniformity; but a oneness of heart, and feeling, and aim (1 Cor. 12:4-6).

It was one thing for the Jewish clans to spend a few days together while traveling to Jerusalem and quite something else to dwell together at Home for the rest of the year! Yet they all had a common ancestor in Abraham; they spoke a common language; they worshipped the same God; they were children of the same covenant; they shared common land, and they were governed by the same holy law. Those who have been truly “born of God” (1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18) belong to the same family and need to love one another.

Unity among brethren is a sight to behold. However, unity does not require that they see eye to eye on everything. On matters of fundamental importance, they agree. On subordinate matters, there is liberty for differing viewpoints. In all things, there should be a spirit of love. There can be unity without uniformity; we are all different, but that doesn’t prevent us from working together. There can be unity without unanimity; God never intended that everyone should agree on matters of minor importance. It is enough to agree on the basics. On everything else, we may disagree as long as we can do it without being disagreeable. The real enemies of unity are jealousy, gossip, backbiting, hyper criticalness, and lovelessness.

       2. It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;

Like the precious ointment. ─This oil2 was especially compounded according to the directions God gave Moses (Ex. 30:22-33). “Precious” not only because of its inherent nature but more because its typical character symbolizes the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:20,27). With that blessed chrism1, our Lord was anointed at His baptism (Luke 3:21, 22; 4:18): and it was abundantly shed forth after His ascension (Acts 2:33). Moreover, the results of that anointing have descended to us, the weakest and furthest, who are like the skirts of His robes.

In Scripture, oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Isa. 61:1-3; Zech. 4; Luke 4:17-19; Acts 10:38), for this anointing was given to priests, prophets, and kings, all of whom needed the Spirit’s help to be able to minister effectively (1 Sam. 16:13). But there is another meaning to this little gem of a psalm: oil symbolized the unity of the nation in worship under their consecrated priest. As the oil consecrated Aaron, so the unity of the worshippers in Jerusalem would consecrate the nation under God.

We often hear Christians pray for an “anointing of the Spirit” on God’s servants, yet each believer has already been anointed by God. This anointing establishes us so that we do not fall (2 Cor. 1:21-22) and enlightens us so that we do not go astray (1 John 2:21, 27). Every believer needs this strengthening and teaching of God’s Spirit.

       3. As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, evenlife for evermore.

The thought of oil flowing down Aaron’s beard (v. 2) is reinforced by the image of dew on Mount Hermon. At an altitude of more than 9,000 feet, Mount Hermon was often the only splash of green on an otherwise dry and brown landscape. The refreshing difference that unity made for the people of Israel was no less striking than the effect water had on arid land. These thoughts would have been especially appropriate for pilgrims making their way to Jerusalem to worship with their brothers.

“As the dew of Hermon.” ─The dew that fell on Mount Hermon is cited as being more lovely and holy than common dew. It is therefore employed as a further metaphor for the anointing oil, which had been referred to before. And the psalmist says that the love represented by the oil─ which, in turn, was symbolized by the dews of Hermon─ fell on Mount Zion as the dew on parched shrubbery. Wherever the Lord’s people met there is the exhibition of brotherly love. Love in the Spirit is the dew of this world of men, a symbol, and a channel of the eternal love and blessing of God.

In Scripture, dew symbolizes the life-giving Word of God (Deut. 32:2), the blessing of God that brings fruitfulness (Gen. 27:28, 39; Deut. 33:13, 28), and God’s special refreshing on His people (Hos. 14:5; Zech. 8:12). How often we need the refreshment of the Holy Spirit that comes silently but bountifully like the dew upon the grass! When things are “dry,” they begin to wither and fall apart, but when the dew comes, it brings new life, and things hold together.

The dew speaks of fruitfulness, and the anointing oil speaks of fragrance, for the unity of God’s people is both “good and pleasant.” When we get to the heavenly Zion (Heb.12:18-29), there we will enjoy perfect unity, “life forevermore.” But why not seek to have that kind of unity today? “Will You not revive us again, so that your people may rejoice in You?”

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,

All His wondrous compassion, and purity;

O, Thou Spirit Divine

All my being refine

Until the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.



Special notes and Scripture

  1. Chrism, also called myrrh, myron, holy anointing oil, and consecrated oil, is a consecrated oil used in the Anglican, Armenian, Assyrian, and Catholic churches.
  2. The olive oil base was made fragrant by adding spices and aromatic herbs such as myrrh, cinnamon, calamus (possibly the high-scented sweet sedge), and cassia (a species of fragrant wood). In its deeper symbolism, it stands for the fragrant blessings of the Holy Spirit crowning the gathering of brethren in true spiritual oneness.