Psalm 133 - How very good and pleasant

A Song of Ascents
1) How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!
2) It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down over the collar of his robes.
3) It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing,
life forevermore.

Psalm 133
2nd Sunday of Easter, Year B
Proper 7, Sunday between June 19 and June 25, Year B
Proper 15, Sunday between August 14 and August 20, Year A

This psalm is treasured, its 3 short verses singing of the precious gift of unity, in a family or in a community.

I think it is so valued, because it can be either praise or prayer. There may be a tendency to hear it as a joyful thanksgiving for the great blessing of kindred spirits living in harmony. But cannot it not also be a plea for what we don't have, and earnestly desire?

I remember hearing these words twenty-two years ago. I was a chaplain, training in a hospital. One of my assignments was a locked door psychiatric floor for patients "dually-diagnosed" with a serious mental illness, complcated with substance use disorder. I met a man who like to quote this: "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in peace." At the time I though it ironic that he would so praise this idea, and then become embroiled in conflicts and altercations with other patients.

Now I am glad he clung to the hope that his present circumstance was not the only way to be. I imagine he heard the promise of God's possibility, no matter how many times he and others had failed to make this their living reality.

The psalm's exalted language of overflowng prosperity, of water bringing life to dry ground, rings true. If you have lived in conflict and enmity and betrayal and confusion, a true unity may seem impossible. Do not lose hope.

God's dream for us is not impossible. In fact, God's hope for us is what makes life possible. If there was truly "war of all against all," life would be impossible. It now seems a scientific fact that while both exist, there is far more cooperation than competition in the living world.

The psalm says that "From there the Lord ordained his blessing, life forevermore.

Gramatically, the source of the blessing is Mount Zion.

Poetically, and thruthfully, the blessing is life not at war, not in rivalry, but lived in unity. The just, mutual, kind and loving unity we do desperately need.

Bellum omnium contra omnes. (2024, March 31, 2024) In Wikipedia. Unattributed, Grass, meadow, tautroepfchen, dewdrop, water, drop of water, bokeh, reflections, nature, grasses, green. Used under PickPik terms of use.
* New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition Bible (NRSVUE), copyright © 2021 National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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