Songs of Ascent – Fall 2020 – Reflection 6 of 6

By Pastor Matt Bisel

Read the psalm and discuss the questions below. Each Small Group is different, some tend to be more talkative, other not as much. Do your best to manage time; it’s okay if you don’t make it through all the questions.

Psalm 133 – Community

Look at how good and pleasing it is
    when families live together as one!
It is like expensive oil poured over the head,
    running down onto the beard—
        Aaron’s beard!—
    which extended over the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew on Mount Hermon
    streaming down onto the mountains of Zion,
    because it is there that the Lord has commanded the blessing: everlasting life.
Common English Bible

How wonderful, how beautiful,
    when brothers and sisters get along!
It’s like costly anointing oil
    flowing down head and beard,
Flowing down Aaron’s beard,
    flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.
It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon
    flowing down the slopes of Zion.
Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing,
    ordains eternal life.
The Message

As you remember, the Psalms of Ascent were songs for the journey, a playlist for the road trip.  Reflecting on some of the road trips that I have taken my family on, I must confess that the words “how wonderful, how beautiful it is…” were not sung, but rather muttered under my breath with more than a hint of sarcasm. A cacophony of fists and kicks, elbows and screams erupting from the back seat. “How good and pleasing” it is for families to get along, can in the moment seem like a statement of hopeless optimism. Yet when I think back on those trips, I do think of them as beautiful and wonderful time spent with my family. Can you recall a memorable road trip? Share it with your group.   

As followers of Jesus we are a part of one big faith family called the church. The psalmist illustrates what this faith family should be like. In this poetic image the family is like “expensive oil poured over the head, running down onto the beard – Aaron’s beard!” Throughout the Bible, oil is used as a sign of God’s presence, God’s Spirit being poured out. The reference to Aaron comes from the instructions given in Exodus 29 for the ordination of priests. The picture being painted here is that we as a faith community are God’s anointed, each one of us a priest for one another. We are anointed by Christ and the Holy Spirit has been poured out on us.  What do you think it means to be a priest for one another? 

The Bible is full of dysfunctional families: Cain killed Abel, Jacob fled from Esau, Joseph was thrown into a pit and left for dead by his brothers. Jesus called an assorted, and at the time disagreeable, group to be his disciples. Paul tirelessly taught his fledgling churches what it looked like to live in a community who loved one another with the love of Christ. Psalm 133 ends with a picture of renewal, redemption, and new life, flowing down mount Zion exclaiming that it is there, in that community being made into something good and pleasing, wonderful and beautiful, that we find a picture of heaven, everlasting life. Take a moment and reflect on the time your small group has been together. What has been your most memorable moment together? In what ways have you been priest for one another? Is your group a reflection of the wonderful and beautiful?

Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society (Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2000).

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