Psalm 133:3

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 3. As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion. From the loftier mountains the moisture appears to be wafted to the lesser hills: the dews of Hermon fall on Zion. The Alpine Lebanon ministers to the minor elevation of the city of David; and so does brotherly love descend from the higher to the lower, refreshing and enlivening in its course. Holy concord is as dew, mysteriously blessed, full of life and growth for all plants of grace. It brings with it so much benediction that it is as no common dew, but As that of Hermon which is specially copious, and far reaching. The proper rendering is, "As the dew of Hermon that descended upon the mountains of Zion", and this tallies with the figure which has been already used; and sets forth by a second simile the sweet descending diffusiveness of brotherly unity.

For there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. That is, in Zion, or better still, in the place where brotherly love abounds. Where love reigns God reigns. Where love wishes blessing, there God commands the blessing. God has but to command, and it is done. He is so pleased to see his dear children happy in one another that he fails not to make them happy in himself. He gives especially his best blessing of eternal life, for love is life; dwelling together in love we have begun the enjoyments of eternity, and these shall not be taken from us. Let us love for evermore, and we shall live for evermore. This makes Christian brotherhood so good and pleasant; it has Jehovah's blessing resting upon it, and it cannot be otherwise than sacred like "the precious ointment", and heavenly like "the dew of Hermon."

O for more of this rare virtue! Not the love which comes and goes, but that which dwells; not that spirit which separates and secludes, but that which dwells together; not that mind which is all for debate and difference, but that which dwells together in unity. Never shall we know the full power of the anointing till we are of one heart and of one spirit; never will the sacred dew of the Spirit descend in all its fulness till we are perfectly joined together in the same mind; never will the covenanted and commanded blessing come forth from the Lord our God till once again we shall have "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." Lord, lead us into this most precious spiritual unity, for thy Son's sake. Amen.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 3. As the dew of Hermon, etc. What we read in the 133rd Psalm of the dew of Hermon descending upon the mountains of Zion", says Van de Velde in his "Travels" (Bd.

  1. S. 97), "is now become quite clear to me. Here as I sat at the foot of Hermon, I understood how the water drops which rose from its forest mantled heights, and out of the highest ravines, which are filled the whole year round with snow, after the sun's rays have attenuated them add moistened the atmosphere with them, descend at evening time as a heavy dew upon the lower mountains which lie round about as its spurs. One ought to have seen Hermon with its white golden crown glistening aloft in the blue sky, in order to be able rightly to understand the figure. Nowhere in the whole country is so heavy a dew perceptible as in the districts near to Hermon. To this dew the poet likens brotherly love. This is "as the dew of Hermon": of such pristine freshness and thus refreshing, possessing such pristine power and thus quickening, thus born from above ( Psalms 110:3 ), and in fact like the dew of Hermon which comes down upon the mountains of Zion -- a feature in the picture which is taken from the natural reality; for an abundant dew, when warm days have preceded, might very well be diverted to Jerusalem by the operation of the cold current of air sweeping down from the north over Hermon. We know, indeed, from our own experience how far off a cold air coming from the Alps is perceptible, and produces its effects. The figure of the poet is therefore as true to nature as it is beautiful. When brethren bound together in love also meet together in one place, and, in fact, when brethren of the north unite with brethren in the south in Jerusalem, the city which is the mother of all, at the great Feasts, it is as when the dew of Mount Hermon, which is covered with deep, almost eternal snow, descends upon the bare, unfruitful -- and therefore longing for such quickening -- mountains round about Zion. In Jerusalem must love and all that is good meet. --Franz Delitzsch.

Verse 3. As the dew of Hermon, etc. As touching this similitude, I think the prophet useth the common manner of speaking. For whereas the mountains oftentimes seem to those that behold them afar off, to reach up even unto heaven, the dew which cometh from heaven seemeth to fall from the high mountains unto the hills which are under them. Therefore he saith that the dew descendeth from Hermon unto the mount Sion, because it so seemeth unto those that do behold it afar off. --Martin Luther.

Verse 3. As the dew of Hermon. The dews of the mists that rose from the watery ravines, or of the clouds that rested on the summit of Hermon, were perpetual witnesses of freshness and coolness -- the sources, as it seemed, of all the moisture, which was to the land of Palestine what the fragrant oil was to the garments of the High Priest; what the influence of brotherly love was to the whole community. --Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (1815-1881), in "Sinai and Palestine."

Verse 3. Dew of Hermon. We had sensible proof at Rasheiya of the copiousness of the "dew of Hermon", spoken of in Psalms 133:3 , where "Zion" is only another name for the same mountain. Unlike most other mountains which gradually rise from lofty table lands and often at a distance from the sea, Hermon starts at once to the height of nearly ten thousand feet, from a platform scarcely above the sea level. This platform, too -- the upper Jordan valley, and marshes of Merom -- is for the most part an impenetrable swamp of unknown depth, whence the seething vapour, under the rays of an almost tropical sun, is constantly ascending into the upper atmosphere during the day. The vapour, coming in contact with the snowy sides of the mountain, is rapidly congealed, and is precipitated in the evening in the form of a dew, the most copious we ever experienced. It penetrated everywhere, and saturated everything. The floor of our tent was soaked, our bed was covered with it, our guns were dripping, and dewdrops hung about everywhere. No wonder that the foot of Hermon is clad with orchards and gardens of such marvellous fertility in this land of droughts. --Henry Baker Tristram, 1867.

Verse 3. As the dew of Hermon that descended upon the mountains of Zion. --

So the dews on Hermon's hill
Which the summer clouds distil,
Floating southward in the night,
Pearly gems on Zion light. --William Digby Seymour.

Verse 3. There the Lord commanded the blessing. God commands his blessing where peace is cultivated; by which is meant, that he testifies how much he is pleased with concord amongst men, by showering down blessings upon them. The same sentiment is expressed by Paul in other words ( 2 Corinthians 13:11 Philippians 4:9 ), "Live in peace, and the God of peace shall be with you." --John Calvin.

Verse 3. The LORD commanded the blessing. By a bare word of command he blesseth: "there he commands the blessing", that blessing of blessings, "even life for evermore"; like as it is said, "he commanded, and they were created": Psalms 148:5 . So "he commands and we are blessed." --Thomas Goodwin.

Verse 3. The LORD commanded the blessing. It is an allusion possibly to, great persons, to a general, or an emperor: "Where the word of a king is, there is power." The centurion said, "I say to one soldier, Go, and he goeth, to another, Come, and he cometh; to a third, Do this, and he doth it." So God commandeth one ordinance, "Go and build up such a saint", and it goeth; he saith to another ordinance, "Come, and call home such a sinner", and it doth it; God's words and work go together. Men cannot enable others, or give them power to obey them; they may bid a lame man walk, or a blind man see; but they cannot enable them to walk or see: God with his word giveth strength to do the thing commanded; as in the old, so in the new creation, "He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast:" Psalms 33:9 . But there the Lord commands his blessing, "even life for evermore." The stream of regeneration, or a spiritual life, which shall never cease, but still go forward and increase, till it swell to, and be swallowed up in the ocean of eternal life, "even life for evermore." --George Swinnock

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 3. The chosen place for blessing. A church; a church united, a church bedewed of the Spirit. What a blessing for the world that there is a commanded place of blessing!

Verse 3. (first clause). This should be rendered, "As the dew of Hermon, that cometh down on the mountains of Zion." From the snows upon the lofty Hermon, the moisture raised by the sun is carried in the form of vapour, by the wind towards the lesser elevations of Zion, upon which it falls as a copious dew. Thus, Christian concord in church fellowship --

  1. Despises not the little ones, i.e. the mean, poor, and less gifted. It,
    1. Recognises that God is the Father, and Christ is the Redeemer of all believers alike.

b) Acknowledges oneness of faith as the true basis of fellowship; not wealth, social position or talent.

c) Believes that the least member is essential to the completeness of Christ's body.

d) Realises that everything which renders one in any way superior to another is the gift of God.

  1. Distributes of its abundance to the needy: Acts 4:32-37 .
    1. The wealthy to the poor: 1 John 3:17 .

b) The learned to the ignorant.

c) The joyful to the sorrowing.

d) The steadfast to the erring: James 5:19 .

  1. Displays its value more by loving generosity, than by a conspicuous appearance before the world. As Hermon was more valuable to Zion for its dew than for its adornment of the landscape.
    1. A generous activity exhibits and requires more real grace than showy architecture or ornate worship does.

b) Through it, godliness flourishes more than by a vaunted respectability. Zion was fertilized by the dew, not by the grandeur of Hermon.

c) By it the heart of Christ is touched and his reward secured: Mark 9:40 Mark 9:42 . -- J. F.

Verse 3. Commanded Mercy. Elsewhere goodness is bestowed, but in Zion it is commanded.

  1. Commanded mercy implies that it must necessarily be given.
  2. Commanded mercy attends commanded unity.
  3. Commanded mercy secures life more abundantly, "life for evermore." -- W. B. H.