Psalms 133:2 MEANING

Psalm 133:2
(2) It is like.--The italics of the Authorised Version are wrongly inserted. Unity could not be said to flow down. The other term of the simile is implied in Psalm 133:3. (See Note.) Literally, Like the oil, the good oil, on the head descending upon the beard, Aaron's beard, which (was) descending to the mouth of his robes. Oil meets us as the standing symbol of joy and festivity. (See Psalm 45:7, Note; Isaiah 61:3.) It is also brought closely into connection with love (Song of Solomon 1:3). But while this association, as also the pleasure derived from the fragrance of the oil, would be present here as always in the truly Oriental image, its elaboration in this passage points to a further purpose. It is the holy oil, that whose composition is described in Exodus 30:22-23, that the poet alludes to. This, while the garments of all the priests were sprinkled with it (Exodus 29:21; Leviticus 8:30), was poured on the head of Aaron (Exodus 29:7; Leviticus 8:12; Leviticus 21:10), so that the description of the psalm, unpleasing as it is to Western ideas, of the saturation, not only of his head, but of face and beard, was actually true. It would run down his neck to the collar of the priestly robe. That this is the meaning of "mouth" here is plain from the actual description of the sacerdotal garments (Exodus 28:31-32): "And thou shalt make the robe of the ephod all of blue. And there shall be a mouth in the top of it, in the midst thereof: and it shall have a binding of woven work round about the mouth of it, as it were the mouth of a habergeon, that it be not rent." (Comp. Exodus 39:23; and Job 30:18, where Authorised Version has "collar.") To the ideas of "joy" and "fragrance," therefore, must also be added that of "consecration." But the point of the comparison does not lie even here; nor is it in the freshness of the dew, in the next verse, or its abundance, though dew suggests both of these (see Note, Psalm 110:3), but in the word three times repeated--descending. Our version unfortunately obscures this point, by rendering this recurrent participle each time by a different word, missing, at the same time, the marked peculiarity of the rhythm of these psalms. The oil descends from Aaron's head over his face and beard; the dew of Hermon descends on Zion--low in actual measurement, but exalted by the Divine favour above the loftiest hills. It is not unity, then, in itself which is the subject of the poem, but the unity of the covenant under which all blessings flowed down from above, rested on Mount Zion, and took outward shape and form there in the political and religious constitution.

Verse 2. - It is like the precious ointment upon the head. The anointing oil of the sanctuary was an ointment composed of many "precious" ingredients, as myrrh, cinnamon, sweet calamus, and cassia, besides oil olive, which was its basis (Exodus 30:23, 24). Not only Aaron (Leviticus 8:12), but all later high priests, were anointed with it (Exodus 30:30). That ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard. This would be the natural result of a copious "pouring" of the oil upon the top of the head. Though not mentioned historically in Leviticus, it presents itself to the eye of the poet, on whose mental vision the whole scene rises. That went down to the skirts of his garments. Streamed even to the lower fringe of his long vesture (Kay). The high priest at his consecration was a type and symbol of unity. He bore on his breastplate the names of the twelve tribes, so that the holy oil, typical of the grace of God, when it was poured upon him, flowed down on all the tribes, diffusing everywhere an odor of fragrance.

133:1-3 The excellency of brotherly love. - We cannot say too much, it were well if enough could be said, to persuade people to live together in peace. It is good for us, for our honour and comfort; and brings constant delight to those who live in unity. The pleasantness of this is likened to the holy anointing oil. This is the fruit of the Spirit, the proof of our union with Christ, and adorns his gospel. It is profitable as well as pleasing; it brings blessings numerous as the drops of dew. It cools the scorching heat of men's passions, as the dews cool the air and refresh the earth. It moistens the heart, and makes it fit to receive the good seed of the word, and to make it fruitful. See the proof of the excellency of brotherly love: where brethren dwell together in unity, the Lord commands the blessing. God commands the blessing; man can but beg a blessing. Believers that live in love and peace, shall have the God of love and peace with them now, and they shall shortly be with him for ever, in the world of endless love and peace. May all who love the Lord forbear and forgive one another, as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven them.It is like the precious ointment upon the head,.... The composition which Moses was ordered to make of the principal spices, and therefore called precious; and which was poured on the heads of kings and priests, when they were anointed with it, Exodus 30:23;

that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard; this was put upon the head of Aaron when he was anointed, and so on any other high priest, and trickled down to his beard; see Exodus 29:7. The reasons Kimchi and Ben Melech give, why the anointing of Aaron and other priests is mentioned, and not the anointing of a king, or of David himself, are, because the anointing of Aaron was first, and also more public and better known by the people;

that went down to the skirts of his garments; or, "the mouth" or "opening of his garments" (a); not the extremity of them, as our version inclines to; for not so great a quantity of oil was poured upon him; nor would it have been decent to have his clothes thus greased from top to bottom: but the upper part of his garment, the top of the coat, on which the beard lay, as Jarchi; the neck or collar of it, as Kimchi and Ben Melech; the hole in which the head went through when it was put on, about which there was a band, that it might not be rent, Exodus 28:32; where the Septuagint use the same word as here. Suidas (b) says, David means the superior aperture of the garment, that which we call the neck or collar band; and so Theodoret: and the Arabic version renders it, the "aperture", or opening of it; and hitherto the ointment came. This was typical of the grace of the Spirit, the unction from the Holy One; which has been poured on Christ, the head of the church, without measure; and with which he has been anointed above his fellows; and from him it is communicated to all his members; to every one of which is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ; and who from his fulness receive, and grace for grace: and particularly brotherly love is compared to this ointment; because of the preciousness of it, which is true of every grace; and because of the extensiveness of it, reaching to head and members, to Christ and all his saints, the meanest and lowest of them; and because of its fragrancy and sweet odour to all that are sensible of it; and because of its delightful, cheering, and refreshing nature; like ointment and perfume it rejoices the heart; yea, the worst things said, or reproofs given, in brotherly love, are like oil, pleasant and useful, Proverbs 27:9; and is as necessary for the saints, who are all priests unto God, to offer up their spiritual sacrifices; particularly that of prayer, which should be "without wrath", as well as without doubting; and to do all other duties of religion, which should spring from charity or love; as the anointing oil was to Aaron and his sons, in order to their officiating in the priest's office.

(a) , Sept. "super os", Montanus, Piscator; "super os, vel aperturam", Michaelis; "in capitium", Tigurine version; "upon the collar of his garments", Ainsworth. (b) In voce

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