Apprentice Degree Scriptures
Psalm 133, quoted in its entirety, is the opening scripture for Freemasonry. The Psalm is taken from the "Wisdom Psalms" and was one of the Psalms, or songs, that the worshippers sang as they walked up the mountain to Jerusalem and the Temple. It was engraved upon the memory of every loyal Jew, for its meaning was to bind all the people tightly in the bonds of love and loyalty.
This Psalm begins with the characteristic word of introduction, "Behold!" In other words, "Listen, take heed, this is greatly important." The word "Behold!" had the same power as that other very familiar phrase, "Thus said the Lord!".
"Behold! How good and pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity."
This Psalm was written after the Jews had returned from their Babylonian captivity and they had returned with foreign wives, foreign ideas, and a very loose hold upon God. They all needed to draw close together for national strength, for closer religious ties, for strict observance of the laws of God. Family life had deteriorated under their captivity and many of the Jews who returned to Palestine had been born in Babylon and had no familiar ties to their real homeland.
In the olden days brethren dwelt in close proximity; they lived as close to their birthplace as possible; they lived under the influence of the larger family, or clan, or tribe. They had a closeness; they felt a closeness; they had a very high and very deep sense of loyalty to all the brethren. These attributes had been broken down in captivity, and the call was to remember "How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." Therefore, it was necessary to bring a reminder of the glory of the past and the advantage of the future if men would live and act as brothers.
The writer of this Psalm then brought up a reminder of a past custom. A host would anoint his guest with the perfumed oil of anointing that would fill the house with its scent. Turning to the historical Aaron, the writer reminds his readers of the beard of Aaron and his beautiful priestly robes. Aaron typified the "Called of God man," .."The man separated of God" for a special task. Aaron was anointed for his priestly office in a beautiful ceremony before the massed people. If brothers will dwell together in unity it is like this:
"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."
This oil of perfume, this oil of anointing, gave forth a scent that all could be conscious of and all would be impressed. "Brethren in unity" brings a consciousness of the perfume of peace and strength. But there was something more.
Palestine was a harsh land of little rainfall, many rocks, hot sun, little fertile soil, and many droughts. The mountains were upon every hand, dry, barren, and all but hospitable. But there was something about the mountains that appealed. When brothers dwell in unity, it is as the freshness of the dew upon those mountains:
"As the dew of
And as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord commanded the blessing, even
Brothers in unity refresh each other for there is strength in unity and the brotherly spirit is beautiful, refreshing, and restoring. And when unity is established then there is the blessing of the Lord God. Only in unity, implies the writer of the Psalm, where the spirit of brotherhood prevails, may the Lord give His blessing forevermore.
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