Psalm 133:1: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is / For brethren to dwell together in unity!”

November 13th, 2017 by Pastor Ed in devotional

There are few things in life that are both good for us and pleasant to us. Many things in life are good for us, like an hour of aerobic exercise a day or eating less fat, salt, and sugar, but not many of us would find those things pleasant. On the other hand, while eating an entire gallon of deep Dutch chocolate-chocolate ice cream would be quite pleasant, it would certainly not be good for us. You can easily see the point. But the subject of this psalm is something that is both good and pleasant: unity and harmony among God’s people. A relationship with God is not purely an intellectual, internal faith but a faith that can only be authentically lived in community with other believers.

God has created us to be highly relational beings, and it is good for us and pleasant for us to be together. That doesn’t mean of course that fellowships of believers are always one big happy family. Many have noticed that old truth, “To dwell above with saints we love, oh that will be glory! To dwell below with saints we know, now that’s a different story.” David, the author of this psalm, understood this problem well because he had brought the 12 tribes of Israel together into community more than anyone had since Moses’ time. Within the body of Christ we will disagree over some things. But as Rupertus Meldenius said at the beginning of the 17th century, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

It is possible to use a large, tempered-glass laboratory beaker as a hammer to drive a spike into a wooden plank. The arc of the glass is tempered well enough that external blows won’t break it. However, if you drop a steel bearing, the size of a pea, into the bottom of the beaker, the impact will shatter the glass from within. Churches are similar; when they are united and tempered with love, they can resist the heaviest of blows from the outside. But just a small force on the inside will shatter the unity, scattering the people like broken glass. No wonder Jesus told us that the greatest commandment was to love God with our whole mind, soul, heart, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves.

“LORD, help us to extend grace to our neighbors and to accept the things in them that Your grace accepts so that we can enjoy dwelling in unity together.”