How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!
Psalm 133 envisions pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem to celebrate a religious festival. Though they have come from diverse places throughout the Ancient Near East, the pilgrims experience profound unity in their expectations and in their shared faith in the Lord. Psalm 133 celebrates the solidarity among God’s traveling people: “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!” (133:1).
The Hebrew word translated here as “wonderful” is tob, the basic word meaning “good” or “beautiful.” The word translated as “pleasant” is na‘im. This word could be used to describe “sweet” music (Ps. 81:2) and human attractiveness (Song 1:16) as well as the beauty of God’s name (Ps. 135:3). Unity among the people of God is not just a helpful thing or a theologically appropriate thing. It is wonderful to behold and to experience. In fact, it is pleasant!
Don’t we need this sort of pleasure today?! It is far too common for Christians to experience disharmony. Sometimes our conflicts reflect significant theological disagreement. But often they flow from insignificant differences of opinion and style. No matter the cause, however, a lack of unity among God’s people is not pleasant. More importantly, it falls short of God’s intention for us (John 17:11; Eph. 4:1-6).
When conflict arises in the church, we should seek to be agents of reconciliation, people who speak the truth in love. When we experience the blessing of unity among God’s people, we should rejoice and offer thanks for this sublime pleasure.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How have you experienced harmony among the people of God? In what ways do you promote the unity of the church?
PRAYER: Gracious Lord, indeed, it is wonderful when your people live together in harmony. There is something truly precious in the unity that is based on your nature, built upon your truth, and nurtured by your Spirit.
Thank you for the times I have experienced the unity of your people. Thank you for the ways we have been focused together on your mission. Thank you for those who have put aside petty differences in order to nurture our unity in you.
O Lord, your church today is so divided! Some of these divisions are not trivial, but reflect deep theological disagreements. Other conflicts would almost be laughable except for the damage they do to your “bride” and our witness in the world. Help us, dear Lord, to be unified, not just in niceness, but in Christ, in the Gospel, in your truth, and in the presence of your Spirit. Amen.
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