Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 133

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Read Psalm 133

A song of ascents. Of David.

How good and pleasant it is
    when God’s people live together in unity!

It is like precious oil poured on the head,
    running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
    down on the collar of his robe.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
    were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
    even life forevermore.

Editor's Note

Psalms 120-134 are known as the “Psalms of Ascent” or “Pilgrim Songs.” Every year as the Jews traveled uphill towards the city of Jerusalem to participate in one of the three Jewish festivals, these are the songs they would sing. They became a staple of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem back then and now they serve as a helpful template for us as we worship today.

Go Deeper

Unity seems to be in short supply these days. But God tells us that that unity among believers is not only good and pleasant, but holy (even when unity is not easy to reach). Notice David is describing relationships among believers who are dwelling together. We all know close quarters can test relationships. So, he is talking about believers that will inevitably have to sort out some differences to keep unified. These are the exact situations where we are commanded to each do our personal best to live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18). 

When we strive for unity, what happens is an abundance of holy blessing. David describes it as oil running down the head, beard, and garment of Aaron. The Enduring Word commentary explains that it was common in these times to anoint one’s head when entering a home, both as a greeting and as a refreshment to the one receiving the oil. Aaron was the high priest and would have been anointed with holy oil so precious it was used only for consecrating his service to God. So, when David describes unity among God’s children as the precious oil that runs upon the head, beard, and garment of Aaron, he is describing a unity of holiness that is a rare and abundant blessing. This blessing is so abundant it is like oil that runs from the top of the head all the way to the ground. Unity is a never-ending source of refreshment—and well worth the work it might take to achieve. 

Don’t be duped. Satan tries to trick us into thinking our differences should divide us. But division is not inevitable! Jesus prayed in John 17 we would be unified and learn to get along. David knew and described believers dwelling together as good – something that points others to God. We have to recognize and remember, as much as it depends on us, we must pursue unity in order to defeat Satan’s plan of division. As Charles Spurgeon said, “What a sacred thing must brotherly love be when it can be likened to an oil which must never be poured on any man but on the Lord’s high-priest alone.” Unity is sacred, holy, and meant to bless us and point others to Jesus. Unity is worth the work.


  1. As far as it depends on you, are you living in unity with all? Is there disunity in any of your relationships?
  2. What do you need to do today to pursue the unity David described in this chapter and Jesus prayed for in John 17?
  3. Spend time in prayer asking God for clear direction on how to move forward seeking unity, fighting against division, and living in a way that points the world to Him. 

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3 thoughts on “Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 133”

  1. John 17 Jesus Prays to Be Glorified

    17 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

    “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

    Jesus Prays for His Disciples

    6 “I have revealed you[a] to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of[b] your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by[c] that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

    13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by[d] the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

    Jesus Prays for All Believers

    20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

    24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

    25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

  2. What drives unity and harmony is a common purpose, that of glorifying and honoring God with our talents, time and treasures. It’s ordering our lives for true JOY—Jesus, others and yourself. It’s a life wholeheartedly dedicated to serving God and others. Sadly, it often doesn’t define our lives, and we accept disunity as our norm. I’ve referred often to JP’s 6 steps to be a peacemaker in restoring unity:
    1. See conflict as an opportunity. (Matt. 5:9, 23-25)
    2. Own your part. (Matt. 7:3-5)
    3. Know it’s pressing. (Matt. 5:25)
    4. Overlook a small offense. (Prov. 19:11)
    5. Clearly express your hurt. (Matt. 18:15)
    6. Widen the circle. (Matt. 18:16-17)

  3. Authenticity is what I was thinking about when reading and looking at unity. You have to be the “real” you in order to have unity of like-mindedness. We are called to be the “church” to be a part of something way bigger than ourselves. BUT GOD is so good to give us His Word for a handbook with examples, and Jesus said “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one ,Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:20-21 What an example of what unity is and can be.

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