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Bible Commentaries

Clarke's Commentary

Psalms 133

Verse 1

The comfort and benefit of the communion of saints, 1-3.

There are different opinions concerning this Psalm; the most probable is, that it represents the priests and Levites returned from captivity, and united in the service of God in the sanctuary. This, the preceding, and the following, appear to make one subject. In the one hundred and thirty-second, the Lord is entreated to enter his temple, and pour out his benediction; in the one hundred and thirty-third, the beautiful order and harmony of the temple service is pointed out, and in the one hundred and thirty-fourth, all are exhorted to diligence and watchfulness in the performance of their duty. It is attributed to David by the Hebrew, the Syriac, and the Vulgate; but no name is prefixed in the Septuagint, AEthiopic, Arabic, and Anglo-Saxon.

Verse Psalms 133:1. Behold, how good and how pleasant — Unity is, according to this scripture, a good thing and a pleasant; and especially among brethren-members of the same family, of the same Christian community, and of the same nation. And why not among the great family of mankind? On the other hand, disunion is bad and hateful. The former is from heaven; the latter, from hell.

Verse 2

Verse Psalms 133:2. Like the precious ointment — The composition of this holy anointing oil may be seen, Exodus 30:23; sweet cinnamon, sweet calamus, cassia lignea, and olive oil. The odour of this must have been very agreeable, and serves here as a metaphor to point out the exquisite excellence of brotherly love.

Ran down upon the beard — The oil was poured upon the head of Aaron so profusely as to run down upon his garments. It is customary in the east to pour out the oil on the head so profusely as to reach every limb.

Verse 3

Verse Psalms 133:3. As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion — This was not Mount Zion, ציון tsiyon, in Jerusalem, but Sion, שיאן which is a part of Hermon, see Deuteronomy 4:48: "Mount Sion, which is Hermon." On this mountain the dew is very copious. Mr. Maundrell says that "with this dew, even in dry weather, their tents were as wet as if it had rained the whole night." This seems to show the strength of the comparison.

For there — Where this unity is.

The Lord commanded the blessing — That is, an everlasting life. There he pours out his blessings, and gives a long and happy life.

For other particulars, see the commentators passim, and the following analysis.

In this Psalm the blessings of peace and unity are recommended and described, whether in the Church, family, or kingdom.

I. It is, says the prophet, a good and pleasant thing, c., Psalms 133:1.

II. He declares both by similitudes.

1. The pleasantness, by the ointment with which the high priest was anointed.

2. The goodness, by the dew which fell upon the mountains.

3. But in plainer terms, by the blessing of God upon the head of the peaceful.

1. The prophet begins with an encomium of peace, unity, and concord.

1. "Behold." Take notice of it in its effects.

2. "How good and pleasant," c. He admires, but cannot express it.

3. The encomium itself is expressed by two epithets: 1. It is good, and brings much profit. 2. It is pleasant, and brings much content with it.

4. The concord itself is thus expressed: Brethren, either in a Church, family, or kingdom, should be of one soul, and intent on the common good.

II. The pleasantness is compared to "the precious ointment upon the head."

1. All benefit from this concord princes, nobles, and people. The head, beard, and skirts.

2. It sends forth a sweet and reviving savour.

3. It is as balsam poured into wounds.

The profit he compares to the dews: "As the dew of Hermon," c., gently descending, and fructifying and enriching the ground.

And this he sets down without any metaphor: "For there the Lord commanded the blessing," &c. which approbation he manifests by the abundance he pours where concord and unity are found.

1. He commands his blessing. Makes all creatures useful to them.

2. His blessing is prosperity, good success. To bless is to benefit.

3. This he calls life for with troubles, griefs, &c., a man's life is no life. A quiet life those shall have who live in peace, without dissensions respecting religion or in matters connected with the state.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 133". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.