“So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers.”
Strife vs Unity
The aim here is clearly the absence of strife and the reason is because brothers shouldn’t live this way. The lengths to which we’re to go to achieve this can be challenging and especially if you’ve been trained to seek uniformity. Just three verses prior, we’re provided with some very important context.
“Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together. And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock.” – Genesis 13:5-7
The first thing to note is that unity and peace among brothers is the governing ethic—it’s the goal. The second thing is that this may require going “separate ways” in some instances. This is not to be confused with agreeing to disagree or hating each other in any way. This has to do with grace for one another. Abram and Lot wanted the best for the other. So they were willing to do whatever it took to maintain their unity.
Think about what the Apostle Paul said to the church in Philippi,
“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:1-8
So how good is it for brothers to dwell together in unity? It’s good enough that Christ went to a cross for it. It’s good enough that Abram and Lot looked out for the interest of the other first.
The next thing to look at is David’s comparison to the anointing oil used to consecrate Aaron as the first high priest.
David said, “It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard, coming down upon the edge of his robes.” – Psalms 133:2
First we see that this was a precious oil.
“You shall make of these a holy anointing oil, a perfume mixture, the work of a perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil.” – Exodus 30:25
This oil was extremely costly and it was set apart for one purpose according to the Scriptures. This really plays into how good unity is in that if David was comparing it to something that was set apart then, our unity is something holy to God, now. Add to that the fact that like the oil, unity is costly—it’s hard work.
The next thing we see is that unity marks our position before God. Again, John 13:35, being known by our love for one another. This sacred anointing oil was poured out on Aaron and the people knew he had been consecrated for the priesthood (Exodus 29:7; 30:30; Leviticus 8:12). As Christians, we’re anointed with the Spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15), consecrated for a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), which produces unity as a sign to the world. So how good is it for brothers to dwell together in unity?
Last thing in the section is the fact that the oil doesn’t just pour over Aaron‘s head but goes down upon his beard and extends even to his garments. There is a lot to say about this (some of it conjecture) but most of it is absolutely clear.
One of those clear things is that even though this perfume was costly it was poured out and is poured out in abundance. God is not stingy in His blessing toward His people. He’s going to pour it out, as costly as it is, on our heads, overflow onto our beards (not for you ladies) but it is going to flow onto our garments. The point is that God’s provision of unity and consecration is truly abundant.
And although this may be conjecture I believe the story of the woman who pours out her perfume on Jesus’s feet is also a sign for us that in light of the blessings that we’ve been given we are to pour out love on others. We’ve all been shown a great deal of love by our Heavenly Father, we owe love (our only debt) to one another.
The last and final comparison is the dew that rests on the mountains of Zion. The dew of Hermon symbolizes Yahweh’s provision for the land of Israel. Dew was often a crucial source of water. In this verse, David connects God’s presence with the blessing of His provision.
“It is like the dew of Hermon coming down upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing—life forever.” – Psalms 133:3
So how or why is unity like dew? Let’s look at some other scriptures to get an even better picture.
“The king’s wrath is like the roaring of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass.” – Proverbs 19:12
“I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like the lily, and he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon.” – Hosea 14:5
“Then the remnant of Jacob will be among many peoples like dew from the LORD, like showers on vegetation which do not wait for man or delay for the sons of men.” – Micah 5:7
In three verses we see “dew” as the favor of God, the source of life and strength, and a permeating force that affects the world around it.
This really is what unity among brothers is like. In a world where people can’t seem to live at peace and quite honestly refuse to try, God’s people are intended to model this unity. Which is the favor of the King which is like dew on grass. It’s life giving! Everyone here knows how much happier a relationship is when there’s unity.
Unity among brothers is a source of life and strength. It’s one thing to be physically together with other people but it’s altogether different to be of the same mind, heart, spirit, purpose. When this happens people often describe this unity as life giving and a source of strength. I know this personally. There are people in my life that give me strength. Strength to build. Strength to push.
Lastly, the dew of unity is a permeating force that affects the world around it. Church if we ever want people to ask us about the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15) we’re going to need to walk in unity.