In Unity (Psalm 133:1)

A Song of Ascents, of David.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!

Psalm 133:1

Lots of folks talk about unity — unity of purpose, unity of ideology, unity of fill-in-the-blank. Unity is, generally, regarded as a good thing. While I am inclined to disagree — being unified as a group plunging headlong toward Hell is not a good unity — the point remains.

David knew a thing or two about unity among brothers and how sweet it can be for them to be unified. David was the youngest of eight (I may have the number wrong) and would have understood quite well how pleasant it was when all the brothers got on board with a single purpose. When his brothers acted as a unified whole, they were likely a formidable group. David also had quite a few sons himself. His boys were a varied group, some even inspiring the loyalty of generals and the people at large. But I don’t see many examples of familial unity in David’s life recorded in scripture. I’m sure he had seen moments of everyone getting along and all of the kids aimed at a single purpose, but those are not the norm, as anyone with siblings can attest.

David had other experiences of brotherhood, though. The Bible records the names and exploits of David’s Mighty Men, a group of warriors who fought by his side and went with him most everywhere. These were men so devoted to David that a group of them snuck into an enemy-held city to get David a drink from one of the city’s wells because David mentioned, in passing, that he really wanted a drink from that specific well. These were men who stayed with David as he fled from Saul. It is this group, I think, that David recalls when he speaks of how pleasant it is from brothers to dwell in unity. Brothers in arms.

Regardless of David’s intent, there is a very good application for believers in this verse. It is good for believers to dwell in unity. It is pleasant when we do not argue and debate endlessly over trivialities. One of my brothers-in-law is more to the charismatic side of Christianity and he and I have a good laugh about how the times I visit his fellowship are the times that the exceptionally odd ducks are around. This laughter; this shared amusement about how God pokes a little fun at me and my difficulty with the more charismatic side of things is, in part, how I think this verse should be applied. My brother-in-law and I get along quite well in most respects; there is unity. We pray for one another and encourage one another and generally are brothers-in-spiritual-arms. It is good and it is pleasant. While we have differences of opinion, they are most often grounds for God to use us as iron on iron — to sharpen each other and make us better. And this sort of thing happens all over the place if I just remember that my fellow believers are just that: my fellow believers. When I keep my eyes on our shared Savior, the trivial becomes so trivial as to not warrant mention unless as a joke or a curiosity. And we dwell in unity.

Which brings me to a second thought. Unity is a place the believer dwells, not a place the believer builds. I do not create unity. Unity already exists in a shared Savior and God; a shared faith; a shared redemption; a shared destiny in Heaven. There is, in fact, so much common ground that for us to be arguing over what we do not have in common shows a rather poor focus on the essentials and a rather sad fixation on trivia. And this is sad. David is absolutely right. It is good and it is pleasant to dwell in unity. Having been in fellowships that split over something that was not essential and having experienced the breaking of unity, I know full well how pleasant unity is and what a blessing God has given us in it.

I feel like I should somehow wrap this up, but it all boils down to unity with my brothers and sisters in Christ based on our shared beliefs — our Savior, our God, our faith, our salvation, and so on. To dwell; to live in that unity is good and pleasant. To break it is not good and unpleasant. Father, please give me the ability to live in the unity that You have made. Teach me how to do my part to maintain it. And thank You for the blessing of a good and pleasant unity that was waiting for me and every believer.


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