“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard, coming down upon the edges of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing–life forever.” (Psalm 133)
Many of us have heard this passage before.
Sometimes it is quoted to support the teaching that the anointing flows from Jesus to religious leaders to “lay members.” Therefore, if you want to be anointed and blessed, you need to be united with leadership so that you are under “the flow of the anointing.” This is a faulty teaching which mixes truth with error. Please be patient with me as I attempt to separate the two.
Let’s talk about unity for a minute.
The very first line in Psalm 133 says how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity. How true this is. We have all experienced how refreshing it is to be in harmony with brothers and sisters in Christ. It is a blessing to fellowship with Christians who rejoice with one another, suffer with one another, pray with one another, meet each others needs, stand on the word of God together, and love one another without partiality just as Jesus loves us. It is a taste of heaven on earth.
This unity is an answer to Jesus’ prayer, “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one–as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” (John 17:21-23) The ultimate purpose of our unity is to persuade the world to believe that Jesus was sent by the Father to fulfill His plan of salvation.
Ephesians 4:3-6 says to “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.”
Notice what Paul said there. He said to be united in the Spirit. He didn’t say to be united around himself, united around Peter, or united around Apollos. The apostles did not speak of unity in terms of personal unity around church leaders. They spoke of unity in terms of being united in God, who binds us together with peace.
God is the rallying point for unity in the body of Christ, not religious leaders. I say this because the first line of Psalm 133 is sometimes quoted to rally Christians around religious leaders. However, this is not what Psalm 133 is speaking of. It is not talking about unity around religious leaders. Unity around religious leaders produces division, sectarianism, divided loyalties, partiality, quarrels, pride, boasting, elitism, competition, and cults of personality in the church. The saints in Corinth fell into this very error:
“I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.” Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not!”
Paul addressed their divisive behavior and encouraged them to be united. In 1 Corinthians 3:1-7, he said that he couldn’t speak to them as though they were spiritual people. He had to speak to them as if they were people of the world or infants in Christ. He had to feed them milk, not solid food, because they weren’t ready for stronger teaching. They were still controlled by their sinful nature, and the proof was that they were jealous of each other and quarreling. Over what? Church leaders. They were acting just like people of the world. When one Christian says “I’m a member of pastor so and so’s church,” and another Christian says, “I’m the spiritual son or daughter of bishop so and so,” they’re acting just like people of the world. Ministers of Jesus Christ are only God’s servants through whom we believed the Good News. One planted the seed, and another watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God made the seed grow.
We cannot take a passage that is about brethren living together in unity, and turn it into a passage about unity around leaders. That is not what the text is talking about, and it produces all sorts of problems.
Now let’s talk about Psalm 133 verse 2. It says “It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard, coming down upon the edges of his robes.”
For some reason, people have interpreted that passage to mean that the anointing flows from Jesus to religious leaders to ‘lay members.’ This interpretation is incorrect for a few reasons.
#1. First of all, Jesus and the apostles did not divide the body of Christ into a religious class-system or a hierarchy of two different groups: ‘clergy’ and ‘lay members.’
The word “clergy” comes from the koine Greek word “kleros” (see Strong’s Concordance #G2819). The word “koine” simply means “common.” Koine Greek was the common Greek language used in the Roman empire during the 1st century. It is the main language of the New Testament manuscripts.
The word “kleros” appears in 1 Peter 5:3 which tells elders “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage [kleros], but being examples to the flock.” In this passage, the word kleros refers to all Believers, the entire flock of God. The kleros are those whom God has placed in the care and oversight of elders — not an exclusive group of religious leaders.
Today, the term “lay member” means someone who is not an expert or a professional. In the church, it means someone who is not a religious leader, someone who has not been ordained, or someone who doesn’t have the title “pastor, bishop, reverend, minister, evangelist, prophet, prophetess, apostle, or doctor.”
The term “lay member” comes from the koine Greek word “laos” (Strong’s Concordance #G2992). This word appears throughout the New Testament. It simply means “people.” Paul used this word in Titus 2:14 to refer to the entire body of Christ: “who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people [laos], zealous for good works.”
In Revelations 21:3, the term “laos” is used once again, to refer to the entire family of God: “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people [laos]. God Himself will be with them and be their God.”
Scripture shows that the original terms from which we derived “clergy” and “laity” refer to the people of God as a collective — not two separate spiritual classes or two separate groups of Believers.
Jesus prayed for our unity. He does not want us to be divided into spiritual classes and ranks based on our spiritual gifts. There are many different spiritual gifts, but the same Holy Spirit is the source of them all (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). There are many members, but one body and we all share the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).
We have elevated certain spiritual gifts as more honorable, more important, more anointed, and placed them on a higher level. But God’s word says that the parts of the body that seem the weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we should treat with the greatest care. The more honorable parts do not require this special care. This creates harmony in the body of Christ, so that everyone cares for each other (1 Corinthians 12:22-25).
In Matthew 23, we see that the scribes and Pharisees said and did many things to distinguish themselves above others and portray themselves as being in a higher spiritual class. Jesus rebuked and admonished them and told His disciples not to imitate their behavior “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters” (Matthew 23:8).
The entire body of Christ is a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5, 9), and we are all ambassadors of Jesus Christ to the lost, and gifted to edify one another.
#2. Secondly, the anointing does not flow from Jesus to religious leaders to the rest of the body. Aaron was a Christ-type. He was a high priest who represented the children of Israel before God. That made him a type and a shadow of Jesus, our High Priest who represents us before the Father. When Aaron’s head was anointed with oil, it pointed to Jesus who is The Anointed One (the word “Christ” means anointed one).
Hebrews 1:9 says of Jesus: “Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”
Jesus is more anointed than us by virtue of His Divinity. He has the fullness of Deity in bodily form. He has the Holy Spirit without limit or measure. Through faith in Him, we received the gift of the Holy Spirit who anoints us and sets us apart to serve God.
“Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.” (1 John 2:20)
“But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” (1 John 2:27)
None of these passages say anything about the anointing flowing from Jesus to religious leaders to the rest of the body of Christ. They all say that the anointing came directly from God, the Holy One.
The anointing flows directly from Jesus, the Head, our High Priest and Anointed One. Through faith in Him, God gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit and anointed us. Galatians teaches that we received this gift by faith in the Son of God, not by ‘unity to leadership.’
The belief that the anointing flows to us through religious leaders puts them in the place of a mediator or middle-man between us and God. In effect, this exalts religious leaders to the place of Jesus, which is idolatry and antichrist. Religious leaders are not a mediator or “middle man” through whom we receive the anointing. Jesus is the only middle man: “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2:5).
If you are a born-again Christian, then you are already anointed by God. There is no need to seek after leaders to receive an anointing that God already gave you. Leaders do not have any authority to transfer, impart, or dispense the anointing anyway. The Holy Spirit (who is the anointing) is not under the authority and command of religious leaders. The Holy Spirit is under the authority and command of Jesus Christ. Our Savior clearly stated that He is the one who sends the Holy Spirit or anointing:
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7)
“And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)
Let’s move on to Psalm 133 verse 3. It says “It is like the dew of Hermon coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing–life forever.”
I saw an article that said the word “there” (the place where God commands His blessing) is referring to being in position (submission) under leadership. Once again, this is not what the text is saying.
While the Scriptures do teach submission to godly leaders and mutual submission among all Believers, Psalm 133:3 is not talking about submission to leadership. If a leader wants to teach about Biblical submission in the body of Christ, there are other texts that they can use which speak directly to that issue. But it makes no sense to use a text which says nothing about submission to leadership and read it into the text. That’s called eisegesis (reading your own ideas into a text, instead of pulling out of a text the meaning inherent in it). Just because the Scriptures teach submission to godly leaders does not mean we are allowed to read it into verses where it isn’t. We cannot make Psalm 133 say something that it doesn’t. We must do a better job of rightly dividing the word of truth and letting God’s word speak for itself.
Back to Psalm 133:3.
The dew was fresh water from the heavens. It was a covenant blessing from God upon the land of Israel. When the children of Israel dwelt together in unity and kept their covenant with God, God would bless their land with dew, which was a source of refreshing, life, and growth. This was meant to teach the children of Israel that God is their source of refreshing, life, and growth. In Hosea 14:5, God said “I will be as the dew to Israel.” Jesus said something very similar to the Samaritan woman in John 4:10: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
In Scripture, the mountains of Zion can represent God’s spiritual kingdom, the heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22; Revelations 14:1, 1 Peter 2:6). All Christians are citizens of Zion, the Jerusalem that is above. And God is our dew and our living water who gives us life, refreshing, and growth. When we dwell together in unity — there, God commands His blessing and we experience refreshing, life and spiritual growth.