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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Psalms 133



Verse 1

Psalms 133.

The benefit of the communion of saints.

A Song of Degrees of David.

Title. לדוד המעלות שׁיר Shiir hammangaloth ledavid.] This psalm is thought to have been written by David upon the agreement of the other tribes, with that of Judah, after Absalom's rebellion. It was very fitly used after the captivity, when the remainder of the tribes, formerly separated under Rehoboam, united themselves with the tribe of Judah; and quietly lived under the same common government. Bishop Patrick says, it was as fitly used by the first Christians, to express their joy for the blessed union of Jews and Gentiles; and may now serve the uses of all Christian societies, whose happiness consists in holy peace and concord.

Psalms 133:1. Behold, how good, &c.— Mr. Fenwick reads it, Behold, how sweet and good it is, &c.—Ver. 2. Sweet as that precious ointment, &c.—Ver. 3. Refreshing as that Hermon dew, &c.

Verse 2

Psalms 133:2. It is like the precious ointment, &c.— This verse is explained by Exodus 30:23; Exodus 30:38 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 an unanimous and well cemented society; all jointly conspiring, and in strict friendship contributing, according to their various capacities, tempers, and conditions, to the good and welfare of the whole. Dr. Hammond, and after him Mr. Johnson, carry this comparison further, and suppose that the anointing oil being said to go down to the skirts of Aaron's cloathing, implies that unity is a blessing to the subject, as well as the governor; to the meanest person in the society, as well as the greatest. This is certainly a truth; but it may be questioned whether it was intended by the Psalmist to be here implied. The former part of the comparison is beautiful and elegant; and in general it may not be proper to expect that every circumstance of a simile mentioned in scripture should hold good throughout. Mons. Fleury has well observed, that the resemblance generally falls upon some one single circumstance; and the rest are added, not as parts of the comparison, but try give some agreeable and natural image of the thing from whence the comparison is taken. He produces as a remarkable instance Solomon's Song, ch. Psalms 6:6.

Verse 3

Psalms 133:3. Upon the mountains of Zion Bishop Hare supposes this to be Sirion, which was a part of Anti-Libanus, and near to mount Hermon: but it is plain from Deuteronomy 4:48 that Hermon was also called Zion; Hermon being the general name of a chain of mountains, or rather of one large mountain, with several lesser ones belonging to it. The hills of Zion here mentioned, were probably situated on the lower parts of Hermon; from whence the dew flowed down upon them. The verb and preposition which are used for the dew's flowing down from Hermon upon the hills of Zion, are the same with those which are used for the oil's flowing down upon Aaron's vestments, which shews the descent to be from a higher place to a lower. The want of rain in this country, which very rarely falls but at certain seasons, is supplied by very large dews: these are absolutely necessary for the cultivation of the country, especially the hilly and mountainous parts of it, the soil of which is very dry and hot. This gives light to the Psalmist's expression, who intimates that unity and concord are to the full as necessary to the well-being of any regular state, as the dew is necessary to the nourishment of the corn upon the mountains of Asia. Mr. Maundrell says, when he lodged in this country, he was sufficiently instructed by experience what the holy Psalmist means by the dew of Hermon; their tents being as wet with it as if it had rained all night.

For there the Lord commanded, &c.— That is, "For in that place, in that holy mountain, God had promised to bless all his devout worshippers, who shall unanimously resort thither from all parts of the land with an affluence of all good things (See Psalms 13:6.); and not only with an abundance of all temporal good things, but especially with long life, as an earnest of endless felicity: life for evermore." Mr. Green is of opinion, that there should be a full stop after Zion, and that there refers to the dwelling of those who live together in unity: "There, upon the happy dwelling of those," &c. This is the principal subject of the psalm. Bishop Lowth is of opinion, that there must necessarily be referred to Zion, and that there is nothing else to which it can possibly be referred: but this learned writer did not observe that Zion is only mentioned incidentally; and that it could not mean Zion in Jerusalem, because that is always called the hill of Zion; not the hills of Zion, in the plural. See his 25th Prelection, at the end. We cannot refuse our readers the following short and agreeable comment upon this psalm by Dr. Delaney: which, says he, contains an exhortation to unity, beginning in the prince, and diffused through the people, 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 upon 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 still farther; 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 summit of Hermon, refreshing and enriching wherever it falls, naturally descends to Zion a lower, and thence even to the humble vallies. Zion was the centre of union to all the tribes; there 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, book 4: chap. 14.

REFLECTIONS.—Among the deadliest evils that have befallen the church of God, we may justly reckon the divisions, disputes, and animosities, which have from time to time so grievously rent it, disfigured its beauty, and destroyed its peace. O that we had passed at last the waters of strife, and begun to taste the blessedness of loving one another out of a pure heart fervently. We have first,

1. The practice recommended, as brethren to dwell together in unity; for all God's children have one father, one inheritance, one interest, one pursuit, one home, and therefore should have one heart and one mind, united in the same worship, affectionate in their regards, bearing and forbearing, forgiving and forgetting, and only jealous who shall shew the most abundant meekness, charity, and kindness to each other.

2. The blessedness of this conduct. Behold how good, God approves and delights in it: and how pleasant, it is its own reward. It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went down to the skirts of his garments, which was composed of the sweetest spices, diffused the most grateful fragrance, and caused the countenance to shine in beauty. Such an unction from the Holy One have they received who have this brotherly love shed abroad in their hearts; in the eyes of God and men they shine; this sweet favour of Christ in them is most pleasing, and without it all our doings in God's sight are nothing worth. 1 Corinthians 13:1-2. It is as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion, that allays the heat of the scorching sun, and fertilizes the soil; thus doth charity seek to cool the heat of bigotry and angry dispute, diffuseth its gentle influences, and sweetly insinuates into the minds of the exasperated, producing the happy fruits of peace and union; and wherever this temper perseveringly dwells, there God's blessing abides, for there the Lord commanded the blessing; every blessing the soul can need, and which at his command instantly descends, even life for evermore, with God and in God; that life of love begun on earth, the earnest and the foretaste of eternal blessedness. Lord, shed abroad this love in our hearts!


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 133:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

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