by Pastor Mark Hudson
In just three verses, this Psalm provides insight into one of the most fragile, most important, and not often attained attributes of any organization. Unity is not always present in governments, businesses, school, families, or even churches. If this Psalm was sung by the Pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem, they were all coming to worship but coming from different backgrounds and various parts of the land of Israel.
We may think they were “all the same” but when you read about the tribes and their allotted lands you realize they took on characteristics that a careful reader will pick up. Coming together those differences became more vivid; more evident to everyone. Yet, there was something they and David seemed to notice.
When they were together, and especially together in unity, their fellowship was so rich and fulfilling. I would imagine true believers sought each other out and relished their times together. I would also imagine some were not sincere believers in the One True God but came along for the trip.
So David did experience unity that was “good and pleasant.” This unity was not something he often experienced. But it felt so good and pleasant. Disunity, backbiting, gossip, and slander do not feel “good and pleasant.” The Psalmist, like most human being, experience both the unity of the body and the upheaval and emotional drain of disunity.
You and I know both of these two experiences well. Unity can be achieved by following Scripture. Unity is taught early on. That is why Pastor Bowlin tells the membership class how to fire the pastor. He wants you to understand legitimate ways to lodge a complaint and to realize the many ways that are counterproductive.
This unity is like the blessing of God as symbolized by oil running down Aaron’s beard. When Aaron was anointed, some of the oil from the top of his head, ran down on his beard and even on his robe. Does this remind us that unity is “bestowed not contrived” (Kidner, p. 453), that unity is a blessing from God and that unity (or disunity for that fact), is not confined to one area of life but permeates every part of an organization? The fragrance is another benefit of unity possibly pointing to how pleasant unity is and how it saturates the environment
The next image is dew on Mt. Hermon which falls on the mountains of Zion. This is difficult to figure out since these are two different places. This may be a poetic way to express the refreshment to plants and animals that comes from dew. It is in Zion where God meets His people. God does not merely give copious amounts of oil for anointing priest or plenty of dew for plants but God gives life that lasts forever.
It is in the church that we are to see and experience this most deeply, clearly, and genuinely. Here we find unity not based on our backgrounds, the way we come to Christ, or our present circumstances. Rather our unity comes from above and pervades all we do. This unity is from the Holy Spirit and good and pleasant it most certainly is. There is only unity in the gospel.
These are the vows you vowed when you joined the church:
- Do you acknowledge yourself to be a sinner in the sight of God, justly deserving His displeasure, and without hope save in His sovereign mercy?
- Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Savior of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?
- Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as becomes the followers of Christ?
- Do you promise to support the Church in its worship and work to the best of your ability?
- Do you submit yourself to the government and discipline of the Church, and promise to study its purity and peace?
Are you actively submitting yourself to the government and discipline of the church? Do you study its purity and peace? We need you to do just that. And the world needs to see that unity. As John 13:35 says, “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” They are watching. Are we loving?
Father, we are all strong willed. We want our own way and sometimes just want people to get out of our way. Help us to study the purity and peace of the church. Fill us with Your tenderness, gentleness, and love. We lift up our church and others in our area and presbytery to be unified in Christ. For His sake, Amen.