Psalm 133

Psalm 133 A song of ascents. Of David.

1 How good and pleasant it is

when God’s people live together in unity!

2 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.

3 It is as if the dew of Hermon

were falling on Mount Zion.

For there the LORD bestows his blessing,

even life forevermore.

Right in the middle of the Old Testament is a collection of songs called The Psalms. These songs capture the life of a community of faith over many hundreds of years. Psalm 133 would have been sung by the Israelites as they ascended Mount Zion to offer sacrifices at the temple. Such ascents only happened on major festivals when entire families would gather on the outskirts of the city and proceed up to the temple together.

The psalmist describes the goodness of these religious gatherings with the image of the anointing of the high priest. The priest anointed with an abundance of oil evokes rich imagery of the ceremony of ordination. In these rituals, the other priests would pour huge amounts of fragrant olive oil over the head of the priest.

According to the psalmist, so much oil is poured out that the hair, the beard, and the tendrils are dripping with the fragrant oil. It is running down over his robe and pooling on the floor.

It must have been an amazing experience for the priest, but with any religious ritual, this was less about the priest and more about God. The oil represented God’s blessing over the priest, God’s desire for the priest to do something good and wholesome with his position.

The psalmist describes the yearly family gatherings with language of ordination, as if to acknowledge that when we come together to worship, it is God who blesses our worship and our praise.

God’s blessing is more than just an affirmation. Blessing in the truest sense is a sanctifying, a making holy. In our own rhythms of weekly worship, we need to be reminded that worship is a holy act, akin to the ordination of the high priest (minus the gallons of olive oil).

How has God blessed your worship life?

-Mat