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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 133



Verse 1

Psalms 133:1. Behold, how good and how pleasant, &c. — It is good in itself, agreeable to the will of God, and therefore peculiarly pleasing to him, as it is also to all good men: it is good for us, for our honour and comfort. It is pleasant, and brings constant delight to those who experience and practise it. For brethren to dwell together in unity — For us, who are brethren, not only by nature and blood, but also by combination in one and the same commonwealth, and by the profession of the same religion. “Many things are good which are not pleasant, and many pleasant which are not good. But unity among brethren, whether civil or religious, is productive both of profit and pleasure. Of profit, because therein consisteth the welfare and security of every society; of pleasure, because mutual love is the source of delight, and the happiness of one becomes, in that case, the happiness of all. It is unity alone which gives beauty, as well as strength, to the state; which renders the church, at the same time, fair as the moon, and terrible as an army with banners, Song of Solomon 6:10.” — Horne.

Verse 2

Psalms 133:2. It is like the precious ointment, &c. — It is no less grateful and refreshing than that holy anointing oil, which was strongly perfumed, and diffused its fragrance all around, to the great delight of all present, when it was poured upon the head of Aaron, at the time of his consecration to the priestly office, so plentifully, that it ran down his face, even to the collar or binding of his garment. “This verse is explained by Exodus 13:23, &c., where God gave directions concerning the ointment which was to anoint Aaron and his sons. It was to be composed of several rich spices, which, by being rightly tempered and mixed together, yielded a most fragrant odour, and thus became a most expressive emblem of unanimity and concord, in a well-cemented society; all jointly conspiring and contributing, according to their various capacities, tempers, and conditions, to the good of the whole.” — Dodd. Dr. Hammond carries this comparison further, and supposes that this anointing oil, being said to go down to the skirts of Aaron’s garments, implies that unity is a blessing to the subject, as well as to the governor; to the meanest person in the society, as well as the greatest; which is an undoubted truth, though, perhaps, it might not be intended here by the psalmist.

Verse 3

Psalms 133:3. As the dew of Hermon — It is no less grateful than the dew is which falls upon that great and goodly hill of Hermon, thereby both refreshing and rendering it fruitful. Thus, as by the former similitude he illustrated the pleasantness, he here points out the profitableness of unity, the blessed fruit which it produces. And as the dew that descended upon Zion — Upon the several parts and ridges of that mountain, or upon the mountains which are round about Jerusalem, which is often called Zion. As if he had said, The dew of heaven is not more necessary, nor more useful to the parched mountains which, though never so distant one from another, (as far as from Hermon to Zion,) are refreshed with it, than unity is for men of all ranks and conditions, who everywhere perceive the comfortable fruits of it. But, probably, the dew descending on Zion, in this latter clause, is to be taken allegorically for the favour or blessing of God, which is frequently called and compared to the dew, in the Scriptures; and, thus understood, the sense of the place will be this: It is as desirable as the dew which falls upon mount Hermon, nay, as desirable as that heavenly dew of God’s ordinances and graces, which he hath commanded to fall upon the mountains of Zion and Moriah, and others which are round about Jerusalem. For there, &c. — Where brethren live in peace and unity; or, in Zion, last mentioned, that is, in God’s church, or among his people; the Lord hath commanded — That is, ordained, promised, conferred, and established; the blessing — Namely, all manner of blessedness, for his people that sincerely worship him; even life for evermore — Which is the blessing of blessings. How good then is it, and how pleasant, to dwell in unity! The reader will observe, that the unity, so beautifully delineated and so forcibly recommended in this pleasing little Psalm, may either be considered as civil or as religious unity. It is viewed in the former light by Dr. Delaney, whose observations on it are so just and elegant, that we are persuaded we shall gratify our readers by subjoining them. “Unity,” says he, “beginning in the prince, and diffused through the people, is here illustrated by two images, the most apt and beautiful that ever were imagined. Kingdoms are considered as bodies politic, of which the king is the head, and the people, in their several ranks and orders, the parts and members. A spirit of union, beginning in the prince, whose person is sacred, is like oil poured upon the head of Aaron, which naturally descends and spreads itself over all the parts of the body, and diffuses beauty and fragrance over the whole, reaching even to the skirts of the garment. Oil is, without question, the finest emblem of union that ever was conceived! It is a substance consisting of very small parts, which yet, by their mutual adhesion, constitute one uniform, well-united, and useful body. The sacred oil carries the idea and the advantage of union yet further, which, being extracted from various spices, yet made up one well-cohering and more valuable compound. The next image carries the exhortation to union and the advantages of it yet higher. Hermon was the general name of one mountain, comprehending many lesser and lower hills, under the surround of a greater. Union, in any nation, is the gift of God; and therefore unity among brethren, beginning from the king, is like the dew of heaven, which, falling first upon the higher summits of Hermon. (refreshing and enriching wherever it falls,) naturally descends to a lower; and thence even to the humble valleys. Zion was the centre of union to all the tribes, where God himself had promised his people rest and peace from their enemies; which, however, were of little value without union and harmony among themselves.” — Life of David, vol. 3. chap. 14. p. 204. “It only remains to be added,” says Dr. H., after quoting the above remarks, “that these divine pictures receive an additional beauty, and the colouring is much heightened, by their being viewed in another light, as representations of spiritual unity in the church. The spirit of heavenly love was that oil of gladness which Jehovah poured, without measure, on him who is the High- Priest and head of his church. Insinuating and healing, comforting and exhilarating; it is diffused from him over his body mystical, even down to the least and lowest members; of his fulness have we all received; and, as it is said of Mary’s box of spikenard, in the gospel, the house is filled with the odour of the ointment. Nor did the dew of heaven, in time of drought, ever prove more refreshing and beneficial to the mountains of Judah, than are the influences of grace, when descending in soft silence from above upon the church; in the union and communion of which God hath commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. O come the day when division shall cease, and enmity be done away; when the tribes of the spiritual Israel shall be united in a bond of eternal charity, under the true David, in the Jerusalem which is above, and saints and angels shall sing this lovely Psalm together!”


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 133:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

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