India, the largest democracy in the world, strives for ‘unity in diversity’ yet several factors divide our nation. There have been times when I’ve wondered whether the real scandal has something to do with a fragmented Indian church. Numerous ‘independent ministries’ tragically function with the motto: “divided we stand, united we will fall”!
Taken from the timeless hymnbook of God’s people, Psalm 133 teaches us about the nature and value of unity. David was probably prompted to write this psalm when Israel came together for his coronation, not as the northern and southern kingdoms but as one nation under God (2Sam.5:1-3). This is a “psalm of accent” that was regularly sung as Israel went up to worship at Jerusalem. As we look into its content we can learn much and be challenged concerning the vital need to worship and work together…
The psalmist begins with an attention-getter ‘Behold’, to focus on the topic of unity. When believers are together, God’s favor manifests itself in a way that is nothing less than a miracle of his grace. As a divine gift, unity cannot be manufactured, only maintained. Notice the two adjectives used: ‘good’ speaks of an objective reality that is morally right, and ‘pleasant’ is subjective indicating how unity offers a joy-ful experience (v. 1a). Moreover, the harmony is in two arrangements: not just in ‘dwelling together’, which can be mechanically, but abiding ‘in unity’ (v.1b). Such togetherness takes more than human cooperation, it requires divine enablement. Believers as ‘brothers and sisters’ have a common heavenly Father, living faith and bright future.
Two analogies are used to reveal the essence and function of unity (v.2-3). The first, albeit religious, was readily understood by the whole community. Fragrant oil was used to anoint national leaders like prophets, priests and kings. This ‘anointing’ on Aaron the high priest’s head, flowed ‘down’ his beard on to his breastplate bathing the twelve stones representing the twelve tribes. The same olive oil, symbolizing the Holy Spirit’s empowering, at once consecrates priest and eradicates divisions among the lay people. The second practical image is of fruitful dew that ‘descends’ from Mount Hermon’s heights to irrigate the whole land and make it fertile. Both pictures illustrate how unity is a perfect gift come from above that literally affects our life, health and peace!
This Psalm began with an ideal situation, progressed with a double comparison and ends with a sure benediction (v.3b). God orders his blessing and ordains abundant life “there”, i.e. not at Jerusalem or the top of Mount Hermon, but wherever believers get together and serve him in unity. For this blessing to become a reality at the national and social levels, it must start at the personal. In spite of the problems and hindrances believers face, our oneness in worship and partnership in ministry can inspire others to come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord for ‘in Christ’ alone, true and lasting unity is ultimately realized.
Creator God and loving Father, You have called us to live in unity and yet we are divided: race from race, faith from faith, rich from poor, old from young, neighbor from neighbor. Lord Jesus, by whose cross all enmity is brought to an end, break down walls of indifference and hatred that separate us, forgives us the sins that divide us. Holy Spirit, free us from our pride and self-seeking, help us overcome our prejudices and fears, give us courage to open ourselves to others. Triune God, by your grace, make us one in your Son, for the sake of the kingdom to come. – Amen.