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One-a-Day...for the Heart: Dwell in Unity

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity! …For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore (Psalm 133:1,3). The Passion Translation states how truly wonderful and delightful it is to see brothers and sisters living together in sweet unity! Every translation of this verse ends with an exclamation mark, so the Lord feels very strongly about unity!

The setting in Psalm 133, written by King David, was a great festival held every year to recognize the brotherhood and communion of the saints. The celebrations had been suspended for twenty years prior because the Ark of the Covenant, which housed the Presence of God, was at Kirjath-Jearim. In Psalm 133, David moved the Ark to Zion, and a grand festival to celebrate the brotherly fellowship of all children of God was observed. As King David looked out over the joyous celebration, he marveled at how truly wonderful and delightful it was to see brothers and sisters in the Lord living together in sweet unity.

He knew that many of the people did not like him, but all had put their differences and schisms aside for the festival of unity. Whether Brother Joe was mad at Brother John for ruining his best sheep-shearing tool, or Sister Sue couldn’t stand Sister Jane’s narcissistic, self-centered approach to life, the people ALL came together as God’s children to recognize just that: despite all their weaknesses and faults, Father God was the source of their strength and life.

King David knew that, and even though he probably had enemies right there in the crowd, he was neither afraid of them nor distracted from the spirit of jubilation that permeated the gathering. This was a day to leave contention and strife at the door and embrace the family of God. The Hebrew word for “together” in this text means “how good it is that those who are brothers by blood or religious ties should also dwell in unity.” When occasions of dispute arise, the brethren—whether by blood or religious ties—should say, as Abraham said to Lot, in Genesis 13:8, "Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren” (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary).

Most of us aren’t sheepherders, so we don’t contend with squabbles about our sheep, but few can say there isn’t someone who gets under their skin as a frequent source of irritation and strife. We grow in the grace and love of the Lord when we practice leaving the contention and strife at the door and walk into fellowship with God’s kids open-minded and open-hearted. Hebrews 13:1 (KJV) gives us a simple suggestion: Let brotherly love continue.

Romans 12:18 says if it is possible on your part, live at peace with everyone. Hebrews 12:14 echoes the same exhortation, make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord. Both scriptures use the word “everyone.” At King David’s festival of unity, he looked out over the crowd and observed that everyone seemed to be getting along and enjoying their place in the family of God.

Such unity IS sweet. It is refreshing, edifying, strengthening, and pleasant. Having just returned from a retreat with some sisters in the Lord, I am quite full of the sweetness and pleasantness that King David wrote about. God deposits something unique into us when we set aside time to recognize and appreciate the brethren. For our little gathering, it was a time of enjoying food, fun, laughter, studying the Word, praying, and being together. I look forward to many more festivals of unity. Why not look for opportunities in your corner of the world to celebrate the brethren?

© 2023, Chris Werre

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