Psalm 133:3
As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended on the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for ever more.
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(3) As the dew . . .—Better, keeping the same word as in Psalm 133:2. like the dew of Hermon, which descended on the Mount Zion. This statement of the dew of a mountain in the north descending on a mountain in the south, appears so strange and impossible that our version inserted the words, “and as the dew.” But the sentence is constructed in exactly the same form as Psalm 133:2, and the dew on Mount Zion must be as clearly the same dew as that on Mount Hermon, as the oil running down to the beard was the same as that poured on the head. Nor may we take “the mountains of Zion “in a general way for the mountains of the country lying round Hermon like spurs, as Van de Velde does in the passage from his Travels, quoted by Delitzsch. Mount Zion itself is intended (comp. Psalm 121:1; Psalm 125:2, for this plural) as the last clause,” there Jehovah commanded the blessing,” clearly shows. Delitzsch says on the passage, “This feature of the picture 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, of our own experience how far a cold air coming from the Alps is perceptible and produces its effects.” But setting aside the amount of scientific observation required for such a perception of fact, would any one speak of the dew of Mont Blanc descending on the Jura?

We must evidently take “the dew of Hermon” as a poetical synonym for “choice dew.” No doubt the height of Hermon, and the fact of its being so conspicuous, determined the expression. This choice dew, from its freshness, abundance, and its connection with life and growth, is a symbol, as the sacred oil also is, of the covenant blessing in its nature. The descent of the moisture offered itself, as the flowing down of the oil did, as an emblem of the operation of the blessing”. But the conclusion of the simile is only implied. No doubt the poet intended to write, “As the oil poured on Aaron’s head flowed down to his beard, and as the dew of Hermon flowed down on Mount Zion, so the covenant blessing descended on Jehovah’s people;” but at the mention of Mount Zion he breaks off the simile, to make the statement, “for there Jehovah,” &c. Hebrew poetry did not greatly favour the simile, and often confuses it with metaphor. (See Notes, Psalm 58:9; Song of Solomon 8:12.)

Psalm 133:3. As the dew of Hermon — It is no less grateful than the dew is which falls upon that great and goodly hill of Hermon, thereby both refreshing and rendering it fruitful. Thus, as by the former similitude he illustrated the pleasantness, he here points out the profitableness of unity, the blessed fruit which it produces. And as the dew that descended upon Zion — Upon the several parts and ridges of that mountain, or upon the mountains which are round about Jerusalem, which is often called Zion. As if he had said, The dew of heaven is not more necessary, nor more useful to the parched mountains which, though never so distant one from another, (as far as from Hermon to Zion,) are refreshed with it, than unity is for men of all ranks and conditions, who everywhere perceive the comfortable fruits of it. But, probably, the dew descending on Zion, in this latter clause, is to be taken allegorically for the favour or blessing of God, which is frequently called and compared to the dew, in the Scriptures; and, thus understood, the sense of the place will be this: It is as desirable as the dew which falls upon mount Hermon, nay, as desirable as that heavenly dew of God’s ordinances and graces, which he hath commanded to fall upon the mountains of Zion and Moriah, and others which are round about Jerusalem. For there, &c. — Where brethren live in peace and unity; or, in Zion, last mentioned, that is, in God’s church, or among his people; the Lord hath commanded — That is, ordained, promised, conferred, and established; the blessing — Namely, all manner of blessedness, for his people that sincerely worship him; even life for evermore — Which is the blessing of blessings. How good then is it, and how pleasant, to dwell in unity! The reader will observe, that the unity, so beautifully delineated and so forcibly recommended in this pleasing little Psalm, may either be considered as civil or as religious unity. It is viewed in the former light by Dr. Delaney, whose observations on it are so just and elegant, that we are persuaded we shall gratify our readers by subjoining them. “Unity,” says he, “beginning in the prince, and diffused through the people, is here illustrated by two images, the most apt and beautiful that ever were imagined. Kingdoms are considered as bodies politic, of which the king is the head, and the people, in their several ranks and orders, the parts and members. A spirit of union, beginning in the prince, whose person is sacred, is like oil poured upon the head of Aaron, which naturally descends and spreads itself over all the parts of the body, and diffuses beauty and fragrance over the whole, reaching even to the skirts of the garment. Oil is, without question, the finest emblem of union that ever was conceived! It is a substance consisting of very small parts, which yet, by their mutual adhesion, constitute one uniform, well-united, and useful body. The sacred oil carries the idea and the advantage of union yet further, which, being extracted from various spices, yet made up one well-cohering and more valuable compound. The next image carries the exhortation to union and the advantages of it yet higher. Hermon was the general name of one mountain, comprehending many lesser and lower hills, under the surround of a greater. Union, in any nation, is the gift of God; and therefore unity among brethren, beginning from the king, is like the dew of heaven, which, falling first upon the higher summits of Hermon. (refreshing and enriching wherever it falls,) naturally descends to a lower; and thence even to the humble valleys. Zion was the centre of union to all the tribes, where God himself had promised his people rest and peace from their enemies; which, however, were of little value without union and harmony among themselves.” — Life of David, vol. 3. chap. 14. p. 204. “It only remains to be added,” says Dr. H., after quoting the above remarks, “that these divine pictures receive an additional beauty, and the colouring is much heightened, by their being viewed in another light, as representations of spiritual unity in the church. The spirit of heavenly love was that oil of gladness which Jehovah poured, without measure, on him who is the High- Priest and head of his church. Insinuating and healing, comforting and exhilarating; it is diffused from him over his body mystical, even down to the least and lowest members; of his fulness have we all received; and, as it is said of Mary’s box of spikenard, in the gospel, the house is filled with the odour of the ointment. Nor did the dew of heaven, in time of drought, ever prove more refreshing and beneficial to the mountains of Judah, than are the influences of grace, when descending in soft silence from above upon the church; in the union and communion of which God hath commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. O come the day when division shall cease, and enmity be done away; when the tribes of the spiritual Israel shall be united in a bond of eternal charity, under the true David, in the Jerusalem which is above, and saints and angels shall sing this lovely Psalm together!” 133:1-3 The excellency of brotherly love. - We cannot say too much, it were well if enough could be said, to persuade people to live together in peace. It is good for us, for our honour and comfort; and brings constant delight to those who live in unity. The pleasantness of this is likened to the holy anointing oil. This is the fruit of the Spirit, the proof of our union with Christ, and adorns his gospel. It is profitable as well as pleasing; it brings blessings numerous as the drops of dew. It cools the scorching heat of men's passions, as the dews cool the air and refresh the earth. It moistens the heart, and makes it fit to receive the good seed of the word, and to make it fruitful. See the proof of the excellency of brotherly love: where brethren dwell together in unity, the Lord commands the blessing. God commands the blessing; man can but beg a blessing. Believers that live in love and peace, shall have the God of love and peace with them now, and they shall shortly be with him for ever, in the world of endless love and peace. May all who love the Lord forbear and forgive one another, as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven them.As the dew of Hermon ... - On the situation of Mount Hermon, see the notes at Psalm 89:12. The literal rendering of this passage would be, "Like the dew of Hermon which descends on the mountains of Zion." According to our version two things are referred to: the dew of Hermon, and the dew on the mountains of Zion, But this is not in the original. There no dew is referred to but that which belongs to Hermon. It has, of course, been made a question how the dew of Hermon, a remote mountain, could be said to descend on the mountains of Zion, and our translators have sought to solve the difficulty by inserting the words "and as the dew." Some have supposed that the proper interpretation is to refer the comparison in the passage to the dew of Hermon, and that all which follows is an application of the thought: "Like the dew of Hermon is the influence which comes down upon the mountains of Zion," etc.

The most probable and plausible interpretation, however, it seems to me, is, that the mind of the poet was turned to the dew of Hermon - to the gentleness, and the copiousness, and the vivifying nature of that dew - diffusing beauty and abundance all around - and that he thought of that dew, or dew like that, as descending on the mountains of Zion. Not that the dew of Hermon actually descended there; but when changing the comparison, in illustration of brotherly love, from oil to dew, he most naturally thought (perhaps from some former observation) of the dew of Hermon, and immediately thought of Zion as if that dew descended there: that is, love, unity, and concord there would be as if the dew of Hermon should descend on the barren hills of Zion or Jerusalem, there diffusing beauty, abundance, fertility. The comparison of the influence of brotherly love, or unity, with dew is not a forced or unnatural one. So calm, so gentle, so refreshing on the tender grain, on the young plants, on the flowers, is dew, that it is a striking image of the influences which produce brotherly love and harmony.

For there the Lord commanded the blessing - He appointed that as the place of worship; as the seat of his residence; the source of all holy influences. See Psalm 78:67-69, note; Psalm 87:2, note.

Even life for evermore - literally, "Life to eternity." That is, such influences go from that place as to lead to eternal life, or as to secure eternal life. It is in Zion, in his church, that he has made known the way to eternal life, and the means by which it may be obtained. To the end of the world this beautiful psalm will be sung in the church alike as expressing the charm which there is in unity among brethren and in the church; and as tending to promote that unity whose beauty it is designed to commend. Happy will be that day when the church shall be so united that it may be sung everywhere, as expressing what is, and not merely what should be.

3. there—that is, in Zion, the Church; the material Zion, blessed with enriching dews, suggests this allusion the source of the influence enjoyed by the spiritual Zion.

commanded the blessing—(Compare Ps 68:28).

It is no less grateful than the dew is which falls upon that great and goodly hill of

Hermon, whereby it is both refreshed and made fruitful. And as the dew which falleth

upon the mountains of Zion, i.e. either upon the several parts and ridges or tops of that mountain, whereof one was peculiarly called

Zion, and another

Moriah; or upon the mountains which are round about Jerusalem, Psalm 125:2, which is oft called Zion, as Psalm 132:13. And these may be opposed to Hermon, which was remote and beyond Jordan. But peradventure (which yet I propose with all submission) this dew is not to be taken literally, for the falling of the dew availed very little to the refreshment or improvement of the hills of Zion and Moriah, especially as now they were filled with buildings; but allegorically, for the favour or blessing of God, which is frequently called and compared to the dew, as Proverbs 19:12 Isaiah 18:4 Hosea 14:5 Micah 5:7. And thus it may seem to be explained in the following clause; and so the sense of the place is this, It is as desirable as the natural dew which falls upon Mount Hermon, nay, which is more, as that blessed and heavenly dew of God’s ordinances and graces which he hath commanded to fall upon the mountains of Zion; i.e. either upon Mount Zion; the plural number being put for the singular, as it is Psalm 132:7, and oft elsewhere, as I have observed in several places; or upon the mountains of Zion and Moriah, and others which are round about Jerusalem, as was now said. And if it seem strange that the dew should be taken literally in the first clause, and mystically in the next, we have a like instance Matthew 8:22, Let the dead (spiritually) bury the dead (naturally). For: he now gives the reason either why this unity is so good a thing; or why the dew descending upon Zion, to which that is compared, is so desirable. And so upon this occasion he slides into the commendation of Zion’s felicity, as the sacred writers frequently do upon other like occasions. There; either,

1. Where brethren live in peace and unity; or rather,

2. In Zion last mentioned. Commandeth the blessing; ordained, promised, conferred, and established his blessing, to wit, all manner of blessedness for his people that sincerely worship him in that place. Life, to wit, a happy and pleasant life; for to live in misery is accounted and oft called death, both in Scripture and in other authors. As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion,.... Hermon was a very high hill beyond Jordan; the Sidonians called it Sirion, and the Amorites Shenir, Deuteronomy 3:8; hence Shenir and Hermon are mentioned together, Sol 4:8; and sometimes Sion or Seon, Deuteronomy 4:48; and is the Zion here intended; for the dew of Hermon could never descend on the mountain of Zion near Jerusalem, which was a hundred miles distant; besides Zion was but one mountain, these many. Hermon was remarkable for its dew, which still continues: a traveller (c), one of our own country, and whose fidelity is to be depended on, lying in tents near this hill one night, says,

"we were sufficiently instructed by experience what the holy psalmist means by the dew of Hermon; our tents being as wet with it as if it had rained all night.''

The mountains of Zion were those that were near to Zion, and not the mountain itself, those that were round about Jerusalem, on which the dew also fell in great plenty; and to which unity among brethren is here compared, because it comes from God in heaven, as the dew does. Saints are taught of God to love one another; contentions and quarrels come from lusts within, but this comes from above, from the Father of lights; and, because of its gentle nature, this makes men pure, and peaceable, and gentle, and easy to be entreated; as the dew falls gently in a temperate and moderate air, not in stormy and blustering weather: and because of its cooling nature; it allays the heats and animosities in the minds of men; and because it makes the saints fruitful, and to grow and increase in good works;

for there the Lord commanded the blessing; either in the mountains of Zion; so Kimchi: and if Mount Zion is meant by it, the church, often signified thereby, is the dwelling place of the Lord; here he records his name and blesses; here his word is preached, which is full of blessings; and here ordinances are administered, which are blessed of God to his people. Theodoret thinks some respect is had to the pouring down of the Spirit on the apostles in Jerusalem, on the day of Pentecost: but rather the sense is, where brethren dwell together in unity, there the God of love and peace is; the Gospel of the grace of God is continued; and the ordinances of it made beneficial to the souls of men, they meeting together in peace and concord; see 2 Corinthians 13:11. God is said to "command the blessing" when he promises it, and makes it known to his people, or bestows it on them, Psalm 105:8;

even life for evermore: the great blessing of all, which includes all others, and in which they issue, the promise of the covenant, the blessing of the Gospel; which is in the hands of Christ, and comes through him to all his people; to the peacemakers particularly, that live in love and peace; these shall live for ever in a happy eternity, and never die, or be hurt of the second death.

(c) Maundrell's Travels, p. 57. Ed. 7.

As the dew of {c} Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for {d} there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

(c) By Hermon and Zion he means the plentiful country about Jerusalem.

(d) Where there is such concord.

3. Like dew of Hermon, which descendeth upon the mountains of Zion] There is no justification for inserting the words and as the dew, as in A.V. “The dews of Syrian nights are excessive; on many mornings it looks as if there had been heavy rain” (G. A. Smith, Hist. Geogr. p. 65); and the dew that falls on the slopes of the snow-clad Hermon is particularly copious. Dew is a symbol for what is refreshing, quickening, invigorating; and the Psalmist compares the influence of brotherly unity upon the nation to the effect of the dew upon vegetation. From such dwelling together individuals draw fresh energy; the life of the community, social and religious, is revived and quickened. It need not be supposed that the poet imagined that the dew which fell upon the mountains of Zion was in any way physically due to the influence of Mount Hermon (though it is possible that it was popularly supposed that there was some connexion); all he means is that the life-giving effect of harmonious unity upon the nation is as though the most abundant dews fell upon the dry mountain of Zion.

for there &c.] In Jerusalem. Cp. Psalm 132:17. Jehovah has connected he blessing of a vigorous national life with the religious centre of His choice.

life for evermore] Cp. Sir 37:25, “The days of Israel are innumerable.” But perhaps for evermore should be connected with commanded. For life cp. Psalm 36:9.Verse 3. - As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion. The interpolation of the words, "and as the dew," is quite unwarrantable, and spoils the sense. It substitutes duality for unity, and destroys the parity of the two illustrations. Translate, "As the dew of Hermon, that cometh down upon the mountains of Zion." The psalmist sees the moisture which fertilizes the Holy Land, and makes it the fertile land that it is, all given forth from Hermon, the one great mountain at its head. As Dr. Kay well observes, "Physically, Hermon was to Canaan what Aaron was ceremonially to Israel - its head and crown, from which the fertilizing stores of heaven descended over the land. For not only does the one great river of Palestine, the Jordan, issue from the roots of Hermon, but the giant mountain is constantly gathering and sending off clouds, which float down even to Southern Zion." For there (i.e. in Zion) the Lord commanded the blessing, even life forevermore. The reference is to Leviticus 25:21, and perhaps to Deuteronomy 28:8.

Shiloh has been rejected (Psalm 78:60), for a time only was the sacred Ark in Bethel (Judges 20:27) and Mizpah (Judges 21:5), only somewhat over twenty years was it sheltered by the house of Abinadab in Kirjath-Jearim (1 Samuel 7:2), only three months by the house of Obed-Edom in Perez-uzzah (2 Samuel 6:11) - but Zion is Jahve's abiding dwelling-place, His own proper settlement, מנוּחה (as in Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 66:1, and besides 1 Chronicles 28:2). In Zion, His chosen and beloved dwelling-place, Jahve blesses everything that belongs to her temporal need (צידהּ for זידתהּ, vid., on Psalm 27:5, note); so that her poor do not suffer want, for divine love loves the poor most especially. His second blessing refers to the priests, for by means of these He will keep up His intercourse with His people. He makes the priesthood of Zion a real institution of salvation: He clothes her priests with salvation, so that they do not merely bring it about instrumentally, but personally possess it, and their whole outward appearance is one which proclaims salvation. And to all her saints He gives cause and matter for high and lasting joy, by making Himself known also to the church, in which He has taken up His abode, in deeds of mercy (loving-kindness or grace). There (שׁם, Psalm 133:3) in Zion is indeed the kingship of promise, which cannot fail of fulfilment. He will cause a horn to shoot forth, He will prepare a lamp, for the house of David, which David here represents as being its ancestor and the anointed one of God reigning at that time; and all who hostilely rise up against David in his seed, He will cover with shame as with a garment (Job 8:22), and the crown consecrated by promise, which the seed of David wears, shall blossom like an unfading wreath. The horn is an emblem of defensive might and victorious dominion, and the lamp (נר, 2 Samuel 21:17, cf. ניר, 2 Chronicles 21:7, lxx λύχνον) an emblem of brilliant dignity and joyfulness. In view of Ezekiel 29:21, of the predictions concerning the Branch (zemach) in Isaiah 4:2; Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15; Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12 (cf. Hebrews 7:14), and of the fifteenth Beracha of the Shemone-Esre (the daily Jewish prayer consisting of eighteen benedictions): "make the branch (zemach) of David Thy servant to shoot forth speedily, and let his horn rise high by virtue of Thy salvation," - it is hardly to be doubted that the poet attached a Messianic meaning to this promise. With reference to our Psalm, Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, changes that supplicatory beracha of his nation (Luke 1:68-70) into a praiseful one, joyfully anticipating the fulfilment that is at hand in Jesus.
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