STUDY IN THE ASCENT PSALMS
Today is Study #14 of our insights into the “Ascent Psalms” – Psalms 120-134! We will have one more lesson – Psalm 134 – in this study. However, Lord willing we’ll have a special “Christmas study” next week.
Each one of the Ascent Psalms is unique, an individual, one of a kind. Since we have started this study, have you seen how your life is a journey, a sojourning into the seemingly unknown but also into the hands of the One Who knows your path?
OUR THEME VERSE
“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. (Psalm 84:5 NKJV). Have you learned our theme verse yet?
TODAY WE ARE IN PSALM 133
Psalm 133 New King James Version (NKJV)
Blessed Unity of the People of God
A Song of Ascents. Of David.
1. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
2. It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments.
3. It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing—
TITLE AND OUTLINE OF PSALM 133
TITLE (per Dr. W. Graham Scroggie): “Fraternal Unity”
OUTLINE (per JBS):
I. Goal (v, 1)
II. Purpose (v. 2)
III. Impossibility (v. 3)
SOME INTERESTING INSIGHTS
So, you are struggling to maintain your private devotions, are you? Your moments for an intimate walk with the Lord are seemingly squelched with all the stresses of time – even in our seasons of dealing with Covid-19 and its challenges and restrictions? So the Good Lord in His kindness and wisdom has given you an huge GIFT. He has given to you Psalms 117 and 133 – the shortest psalms in the Bible! Read them on those time challenging mornings, and you can honestly say, “I’ve read my Bible today!”
Psalm 133 is indeed one of the shortest psalms, much less one of the shortest chapters in the Bible. And don’t be fooled – it’s brief content has much encouragement for the soul who is seeking the heart of his/her Father.
It begins with a call to unity, a statement of how brothers on the same journey ought to be. I remember the first time I read through the Ascent Psalms in a most intense way. Sometime during that season, I went to a meeting of the Conference my first church was in. The President of the Conference (Tioga River Christian Conference, for those of you who might be familiar with it!) said, “before we begin our meeting, I want to have a devotional on our need to be united as a Conference.” Before any more words came out of his mouth, without thinking I blurted out, “Psalm 133”. He said, “HEY! Did you read my notes?”. I told him that I have ESPN. Or something like that.
Romans 6:19 perhaps gives the heart of Psalm 133:1:
“I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.”
“Slaves [or better, ‘servants’] of righteousness for holiness.” The heart of Psalm 133:1 is that those of us who love the Lord Jesus as our Savior are on the SAME JOURNEY! We are…BRETHREN! Brothers and sisters in Christ. Bought by the precious blood of the Lamb. We are not our own, we are bought with a price. Therefore our focus should be on the oneness we have together in Christ. “Dwell together in unity” is possible ONLY if we dwell together in the awe-ness of our being ONE IN CHRIST! Anything short of that is a ticket for disaster in the body of believers.
Verse two introduces the journeyman to an interesting comparison. The key word here is “LIKE”. Such a unity which is described in verse 1 is LIKE “the precious oil upon the head”. WHAT? I don’t want no oil put on MY head! Phooey! I JUST washed my hair this morning! It would take forever to get that oil OUT! What kind of picture of unity is that?
Good questions…until. Until you answer the important question: WHY was oil upon the head, running down the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments? Why?
Listen carefully to the words from Exodus 29:1,7. These are THE LORD’S instructions to Moses. These are NOT Moses’ instructions to the people! These are the Lord’s words. And the Lord said, “And this is what you shall do to them to HALLOW [“set them apart as holy”] them for ministering to ME as priests…you shall take the anointing oil, pour it on HIS [Aaron’s] head, and anoint him…” Aaron is Moses’ brother, BUT he is NOT chosen simply because of family ties. The creation of this priesthood is by order of the LORD HIMSELF! And in order to set Aaron (and his descendants) apart, anointing oil is poured over them. Can you visualize the oil being poured on Aaron’s head, watching it flow through his beard, to his shoulders, to his priestly garments, to his feet?
What did the writer of Psalm 133:2 say, “ It is LIKE the precious oil upon the head,
running down…”. Do you remember what the disciples (in particular, the crooked Judas the treasurer) said when Lazarus’ sister Mary took costly ointment and anointed the Lord Jesus (Mark 14:3ff)? What did he/they say? “Why this waste?” The Lord Jesus turned around and said that this would be forever a memorial of Mary’s worship of the Lord Jesus. A memorial of what? The Lord Jesus’ death – His being the Lamb of God CHOSEN by the Father to be the Substitute for the sin of the world!
To the world, the church – the true church with its blood-bought members – is a WHAT? Waste! So the Savior through the writer of Psalm 133 is reminding the church that we are NOT a waste! We are PRECIOUS in His sight! We are CALLED! We are BLOOD BOUGHT! We are His PERFECT design to turn the world upside down for His glory. AND as such, we are designed to be…ONE in Christ!
But wait, there’s MORE!
Carefully look at the illustration in Psalm 133:3. It is LIKE! The unity of the brethren, focused on their ascent to Jerusalem to the temple [or, in NT practicality, focused on the glory of God on display through His body which is faithfully walking with HIM] is now given an overwhelming comparative. Watch the progression: like the dew of Hermon…descending upon the mountains of Zion…there the Lord commanded the blessing…life forever!
KEY THOUGHT: WHAT blessing? Look at Genesis 12:2,3: I [the Lord] will make you [Abram/Abraham] a great nation; I will BLESS you and make your name great; and you shall be a BLESSING. I will BLESS those who BLESS you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you ALL the families of the earth shall be BLESSED.” Tuck this away for further personal study: this is the framework of the Savior’s words of Matthew 25, the dividing of the world into the “sheep” and the “goat” nations. The “sheep” nations are the blessed ones – because they are the ones who recognize ISRAEL as God’s chosen people, and so treat him accordingly. The “goat” nations are the ones so recognized because they fail to honor Israel as GOD’S people.
The BLESSING? Life forevermore! Illustrated through the anointing oil upon the priest, setting him apart as God’s servant. What may have seemed a waste is God’s design! And one day the Father would send His One and only Son – the Lord Jesus – to be the High Priest of the sheep, yet One Who would take the place of the sheep and become THEIR sacrifice, the perfect, spotless, sinless Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. ANOINTED eternally as the One to be our Lamb on Calvary’s cross.
The BLESSING? Life forevermore! Fulfilling the promise of God to Moses as Jesus being the Prophet just like Moses.
The BLESSING? Life forevermore! “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten [His “One and only”] Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have EVERLASTING LIFE.” (John 3:16).
The BLESSING? Life forevermore! When the body of believers recognizes the plan of the Father as put in place by the Son, effected on the cross, and eternally effectual through His shed blood, uniting FOREVER all those who have their faith and trust in that death, burial, and resurrection of Christ being in their place – then why wouldn’t the brethren dwell together in unity?
Is that YOUR walk with the Father?
Is that YOUR excitement about your local church?
Is that YOUR joy with your fellow brethren in the ascent, the journey with the Lord?