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Singing Psalm 133 to embrace unity

Would you embrace unity over individuality? Is unity with others indiscriminate? If not, ought the delimiting factors be outward or inward? Who or what can stand against the triune God, three persons distinct yet perfectly united?

Singing Psalm 133 to embrace unity upwardly

Having unity with the triune God establishes your basis for unity with others flowing down from the top. He also enables you to be unified with yourself so that you are the same person in character wherever you are and whoever you are with. The economy of the triune God becomes a part of you so that you are the same person at work as you are at church as you are at home as you are at gatherings as you are when doing errands.

Jesus often provided food for others, and scripture records that he got hungry. After rising from the dead, he asked his disciples if they had anything that he could eat. At one point early on in his ministry, Jesus’ disciples went to buy food, came back, were surprised to find Jesus talking with a Samaritan woman, and wondered if he had eaten. Jesus’ response was that his food was to do the will of the Father and to finish his work.

When you embrace unity with God first and foremost, even food will not distract you from seeking to embrace unity with those the Lord places in your path. He removes war from your heart such that you see others as a harvest field for God. You see yourself as a privileged worker in that field gathering the sheaves with joy as he opens hearts to receive Jesus.

Being a person after God’s own heart, you seek to live with others in a way that pleases God. You seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness and strive to live according to his will. Others will respond to that, and based on their response, you can discern whether it would be good and pleasant to join to live as one with them in peace and unity, or if internalizing their ways would move you farther from God. You consider whether or not their attitudes and activities are in line with God’s before you would choose to ally your soul with them. 

Does this person desire God’s best for others or are they compromising God’s best for a much lesser worldly best? Martin Luther would not compromise his conviction that God’s people are saved by faith alone in Christ alone. His conscience would not allow him to try to buy God off with indulgences as if God needs our money to save anyone. Jesus’s death on the cross accomplished the salvation of those who trust him. Nothing more is needed. Nothing and no one else can save.

Does this person compare himself to others, unhappy if more successful and doing all he can to ensure that others don’t succeed beyond him? David would have loved to live in peace and unity with Saul. Unfortunately, because Saul rejected God‘s ways and lived for self, there could be no peace and unity between them. Having rejected God‘s ways, Saul’s attitudes were self first with a jealous eye toward others, and his favorite activity became hurling spears at even loved ones who disagreed with him or anyone who was more successful than him.

If you find yourself cutting people off who disagree with you, you are using avoidance as punishment for disagreeing with you in an attempt to force (bully) them to agree with you. 

The cure for one upping, ghosting, or even caspering people is realizing that your enemies are not flesh and blood but spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Jockeying for position or for honor among the people of God or separating yourself from them only distracts you from fighting your actual enemies: sin, Satan, and death. Jesus overcame each of these enemies, and defeated them permanently. He won the victory at the cross which was confirmed at the empty tomb. Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father with all authority in heaven and on earth and intercedes for you.

What is it that pursues to grip and destroy you like what had a stranglehold on Saul that prevented him from making a sincere effort to embrace unity?

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” ~ James 1:14-15

“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” ~ James 3:16-18

Saul’s son, Jonathan, could not have been more different from his father. To embrace unity, Jonathan set aside his own position because he, like David, was a man who cared more about God than himself making him a loyal friend. There were many potential obstacles that could have prevented David and Jonathan from being friends. But they rose above each one because they both had their eyes fixed on the Lord first and lived for his honor and glory, not their own.

“And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” ~ Ecclesiastes 4:12

“All these things my hand has made,    and so all these things came to be,declares the Lord.But this is the one to whom I will look:    he who is humble and contrite in spirit    and trembles at my word.” ~ Isaiah 66:2

Is it easier to accept another Jesus and a different gospel from the one first proclaimed to you or to tremble at God’s word and embrace unity with it?

“For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.” ~ 2 Corinthians 11:2-4

You embrace unity because the Lord your God, the Lord is one. Willingness to accept any teaching that opposes the one true God shows not so much an open mind as much as a dull heart and lack of love for the truth.

“I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” ~ John 5:43-44

Jesus did not embrace unity with people indiscriminately. He did not entrust himself to man because he knew what was in man. Although he, indeed, is King of kings, when he perceived the people were about to take him by force to make him king, Jesus was careful to embrace unity with his Father, withdrawing to a mountain by himself. He desires to be one with his Father and his people.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” ~ John 17:20-23

Is there anything better than to know that you embrace unity upward to God among God’s people who are welcomed in God’s house?

“Behold how very good it is,    A pleasant thing to see;When brothers join to live as one    In peace and unity!” ~ Psalm 133:1

Singing Psalm 133 to embrace unity outwardly

There is certainly a place for crumbs that fall from the master’s table: life-giving crumbs from the Bread of Life.

But which substances embrace unity more: crumbs in the beard or oil flowing down from it? For the crumbs, the beard serves as a barrier. They get caught and stop right there or fall to the ground. But oil flows down through the beard to the skin continuing to nourish as it travels. The precious oil flows down the garments as you embrace unity when you are clothed with Christ.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” ~ 1 Peter 2:9-10

Mercy is how unity manifests itself among God’s people. The crumbs of relational difficulties are hurdles to rise above. You value your loved ones more than you care to protect yourself from words that sting your ego. Even in dry, stale, sharp, and prickly seasons, God’s people find a way to care through obstacles and meet even hostility with kindness the way oil flows unhindered through a beard. You embrace unity forgiving as you have been forgiven. You embrace unity by refusing to hold grudges as God makes you willing to engage in the battle. You embrace unity by fighting the passions that war within you, trusting the Lord in advance for the victory.

When Moses anointed Aaron with oil as high priest, it was a unifying time for God’s people as he sacrificed offerings interceding for the people so that their sins would be forgiven. It pointed to the great high priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, whose once and for all sacrifice ensured the forgiveness of sins for all those who trust him.

“Yes, it is like the precious oil    Poured out upon the head,Which, running down from Aaron’s beard,    Upon his garments spread.” ~ Psalm 133:2

Singing Psalm 133 to embrace unity inwardly

You can’t help but notice sincerity and embrace unity when you slow down long enough to perceive when someone is engaged from the heart. Man looks on the outward appearance; God looks on the heart.

Imagine you have a handful of crumbs in your right hand and a handful of oil or dew in your left hand. In your right hand, the individual components of crumbs are clearly delineated. One crumb can easily be separated from another crumb although when together in the handful, they appear unified. But the left handful stays together wherever it goes whether it is oil poured and flowing down from a beard or abundant dew traveling down the diverse terrain of a mountain. You internally embrace unity that comes from above whether you are at a meal with your family or confronting obstacles out in the world. God’s ways help you embrace unity as it is not just an outward appearance of unity but exists inherently within the diversity of the triune Godhead.

Both oil and dew cannot be partitioned in your hand. They cannot be easily divided into segments. Flowing oil operates as a whole that isn’t readily separated into lesser parts. Relationships that operate like pouring dew wouldn’t be divided against one another. They would not be estranged from one another because, like dew, the hearts of each person are knit together in such a way that, though they know where one ends and the other begins intuitively, each person cares to embrace unity as a part of one whole. In the family of God, like oil within a flask, you embrace unity as you perceive others as if they are a part of you. Separating yourself from one another would be as inconceivable as flowing oil separating from itself. You don’t separate like falling crumbs but embrace unity as precious oil connects you to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself.

A people divided against itself cannot stand. God’s church ought not to be divided against itself. It is truly one, unlike a flask containing oil and vinegar which easily separate from one another over time unless they are emulsified with a third ingredient like a mustard for dressing or an egg for mayonnaise. But mixing in this way, like forced unity, turns it into something else where the original components are no longer recognizable. It is pleasant to see when God’s people join to live as one. It’s voluntary. They choose, in spite of their past sins against one another, to embrace unity inwardly while maintaining their unique identities as distinct and distinguishable image bearers. It is a very good albeit very rare sight to behold indeed.

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” ~ John 10:14-16

Since Jesus took not only your sins and guilt but also your shame to the cross, you embrace unity being clothed with Christ which is far better than being untethered to him though naked and unashamed as Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden.

Singing Psalm 133 calls to mind the dewfall around Mount Hermon, the tallest mountain of Israel, signifying unity as the mountaintop prayers of Jesus flow down like dew from its peak winding through to its Jordan River tributary into Jerusalem. The Living Water protects, nourishes, and refreshes each one of God’s people in the city where they gather from all points to worship together.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” ~ 1 John 3:1-3

God created both oil and dew as pictures to give you confident hope for uninterrupted, unified fellowship amidst diversity. Singing Psalm 133 plants these pictures in your mind to inspire your heart to embrace unity. How very good, how pleasant, how beautiful is the precious oil of Christ and his church who increasingly approach choosing to embrace unity with one another, not like vinegar trying as it might to mix with oil, but as one pure oil. You, together with God’s people, eagerly await Christ’s return when the Lord will right every wrong, when death will die, and when you will live together in perfect unity, joy, peace, and love forever.

“It is as though Mount Hermon’s dew    On Zion’s hills descends;For there the Lord bestowed the gift    Of life that never ends.” ~ Psalm 133:3

September 22, 2023 – November 3, 2023


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