Psalm 133

How very good and how pleasant * for brothers to live in harmony together!
    like the precious oil on the head, * running down on the beard,
        the beard of Aaron, * which flows over the collar of his robes;
    like the dew of Hermon * which descends upon the mountains of Zion.
For there Yahweh confers the blessing: * life for all eternity.

1. A gradual canticle of David.

133:0 This is Psalm 133 (Vul 132) in the whole book, the 33nd in the third part, the 14th of the Gradual Psalms, the 4th of those the concern keeping people good. Since the first of these [130] was about the confidence of one who prays, the next [131] about his humility, the third [132] about his desire to build the Church, this one commends fraternal charity. The Psalmist loves it, recommends it to the perfect, since it is what builds the Church and holds it together. So (1) first, after the usual title, he commends heavenly and generous charity. (2) Secondly, he proves his commendation: "Like the precious ointment". In the first, he (1) says that it is very useful, (2) and also pleasant: "how pleasant".

Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity:
How very good and how pleasant for brothers to live in harmony together!

133:1 The idea is: The goods mentioned in the preceding Psalms will come to those who are built and joined in Christ. Therefore, now how good, that is, how useful, and how pleasant it is for brothers to live together as one, even though they are distinct in their grades and offices. Therefore it was good and enjoyable to live in the early Church, of which it was said (Acts 4:32) The multitude of believers had one heart and soul. -Qoheleth 4:9-10 Two are better than one, since they have a good reward for their labor. If one falls, the other lifts him up. -Prov 18:19 A brother helped by a brother is like a strong city (Vul). Therefore Paul urges this unity -Phil 2:2 Be of the same mine, having the same love, with one soul and one mind. This is what Christ prayed his Father to give his disciples -John 17:22 The glory that you gave me I have given to them, that they may be one as we are one. But certainly this useful and pleasant unity is hardly found among those who possess earthly things. It is said in Genesis 15:10 that the animals in Abraham's sacrifice were divided, except for the birds, signifying that secular owners of property are divided from one another when it comes to possessions and certainly to love -Gen 13:7 There was a quarrel between the shepherds of Abraham's flock and those of Lot's. But the birds, men devoted to contemplation who abandoned earthly things, were not divided.

2. Like the precious ointment on the head,
like the precious oil on the head,

133: Here the Psalmist proves the foregoing commendation, (1) first by an example, (2) then by its benefit: "For there the Lord". He gives two examples: (1) the anointing of the high priests, (2) the dew on the mountains: "As the dew of Hermon". Ointment oils, while dew gives fertility. Ointment is a sign of honor, that is of priestly dignity, while dew is useful for fertility. As for the anointing, (1) first he shows by an example what that charitable union is like, (2) then he shows the point of similarity: "that runs down". The idea is: It is good and useful for brothers to live together as one, because it is like the ointment on the head of the high priest Aaron (Lev 8), which is a figure of the spiritual anointing of Christ, who is the head -Col 1:18 He is the head of the body, the Church. The head receives a spiritual anointing -Ps 45:8 the Supreme Being has anointed you, God, your God. Your garments are the oil of rejoicing. -Is 61:1 The spirit of the Lord Yahweh is on me, for Yahweh has anointed me with a very aromatic and attractive ointment. -Cant 1:2 Delicate is the fragrance of your perfume.

that ran down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron,
running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron,

133: Here is the point of similarity, and there are two: (1) the diffusion of this ointment to his neighbors and the early saints, (2) its extension to those who come later: "which ran down to the hem". The idea is: Like the ointment on a head which often runs down on the beard, as literally takes place in the material anointing of the high priest, so from Christ the head the anointing of charity runs down on the beard, that is, on the group of Apostles who, like a beard, showed Christ's power -John 3:34 God gives him the Spirit without reserve, so that he could pour out redemption to his beard. When the Son showed that he was made man, from his very head grace ran down on the apostolic group.

On the beard of Aaron -This repetition of the word "beard" points to a double strength in the first saints, that is, the holy Apostles: (1) in their deeds and (2) in their profession of faith. Infamous believers lack the first; heretics lack the second. So they have like only a half-beard -2 Sam 10:4 Hanun seized David's servants and cut off half their beard.

Which ran down to the skirt of his garment:
which flows over the collar of his robes;

133: The idea is: The union of charity is like a spiritual ointment which runs down from Christ to the saints of the early Church. It also runs down to the hem of his garment, both the material ointment of the material Aaron and the spiritual ointment of the spiritual [Christ]. Note that the garments of Christ are the faithful, especially those who follow after the Apostles, who are the beard, as said above -Is 49:18 All these you will wear as an adornment. -Gal 3:27 All of you who have been baptized have put on Christ. The hem of the garment can refer to the perfect, since a hem perfects a garment. Or it could refer to the harmony of those joined together, since a hem holds the parts together. Or it can refer to the last saints in the Church, since a hem is the consummation and end of a garment. But on all those there runs down from Christ the head a spiritual anointing, that passes through the beard -John 1:16 We have all received from his fulness. -Job 29:6 The rock poured out for me streams of oil. Therefore John said to some (1 John 2:27), His anointing teaches you about everything. It is therefore an enlightening and a healing anointing -Sir 38:7 The oil expert makes an ointment for healing (Albert's variation of Vul).

3. As the dew of Hermon, which descendeth upon mount Sion.
like the dew of Hermon which descends upon the mountains of Zion.

133:2.1.2 The second example is the dew that falls on the mountains: Mount Hermon, which is east of the Jordan River, and Mount Zion, which is in the promised land. Although Augustine tries to prove that this cannot be literally true, since dew could not come from Hermon to Zion, because they are separated far from one another, yet it can be said that there is a double relationship. The idea is that the dew of Hermon is the union of charity which also descends on Mount Zion, not the same in number, but of the same species. But it is better to understand this verse spiritually. Hermon means "exalted light", and Christ is the light -Ps 36:10 In your light we see the light (Vul). He was exalted (1) first on the candalabrum of the cross -John 12:32 If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to myself. (2) over the army of all the angels -Phil 2:9 Therefore God exalted him. (3) And he is a mountain -Is 2:2 In the last days there will be prepared the mountain of the house of God. Therefore on this mountain of Hermon descends the dew of grace -Sir 43:23 The scattered dew enriches the parched land. -Is 26:19 Your dew will be a dew of lights. And it comes from Christ himself to Zion, which, as often has been said, stands for the Church -Judges 6:38 He squeezed dew from the fleece, enough to fill a cup.

Note that grace is called dew, (1) because it comes down from heaven -Is 45:8 Heavens, rain down from above. -James 1:17 Every good gift and perfect present comes from above. (2) It penetrates smoothly, as it came into the fleece (Judges 6:36-40), without any noise -Deut 32:2 May my word drop down like the dew, that is, sweetly and smoothly. (3) It nourishes ravens until they wear out, but this nourishes all men until they sin -Wis 16:23 By changing into all things, it obediently served your all-nourishing bounty. Therefore it is said in Job 38:41 Who provides provisions for the raven when its little ones cry out to God, unless myself? (4) It comes down at night -Ex 16:13 That evening, quails flew in and covered the camp, and next mrnng there was a layer of dew all round the camp. So is the grace of mercy in tribulation. (5) It gives fertility -Hosea 14:6 I will be like dew to Israel, which will blossom like a lily. (6) It cools -Sir 18:15 Like dew that abates a burning wind.

For there the Lord hath commanded blessing,
For there Yahweh confers the blessing:

133:2.2.1 Here the Psalmists gives proof of the usefulness and pleasantness of charity by its fruit, (1) first that which is had at present, (2) then that which will be had in the future: "life forever". The idea is: I showed by an example that it is useful and pleasant. And that is true, because there, where brothers live in harmony and unity, the Lord has commanded a blessing, that is, his praise, for he likes praise and thanks from such people, but not from others -Mat 5:23 If you are offering your gift on the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you etc. -Gregory: What a grave sin discord is; because of it an offering is not accepted by God -Sir 15:9 Unseemly is praise on a sinner's lips. But those who are in Zion through their unity and harmony can praise -Is 12:6 Cry and shout for joy, you who live in Zion. -Is 35:10 They will come to Zion with joyful shouts.

and life for evermore.
life for all eternity.

133:2.2.2 The idea is: He commanded a blessing in the present, and he promised he would give to those who worthily praise him life that will last for all eternity, that is, eternal life -John 17:3 This is eternal life: that they know you, the one true God, and the one you sent, Jesus Christ. One will reach this through harmonious unity -1 John 3:14 We know that we have been transferred from death to life. Why? because we love the brothers. -John 10:10 I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly, eternal and open -Hosea 6:2 We will live in his presence. To this may the Lord lead us etc.