that runs down upon the beard,
Upon the beard of Aaron,
and runs down upon the collar of his robe.”
One of the others immediately commented that he hated that image. Of course, for us modern westerners, the idea of having oil poured on our heads immediately sends us to the shower. But I have taken some time to let this image “flow” over me and I have a different appreciation of it.Consider this image at the time the Psalm was written, perhaps 3,000 years ago. Bathing was rare. People were “ripe.” Once a person rinsed the dirt off, oil made the skin and hair feel soft and luxurious. Oil on the head was a luxury and it was a common practice of hospitality to provide some oil for arriving guests, if one could afford it.
Not only did the recipient of the oil feel better, but the aroma (oils were normally spiced or scented) would fill the whole room. So the image that the Psalmist wants us to get is that brethren living in unity is not just good for the brethren, but actually makes the whole community better!
Isn’t that our experience? Who wants to be around people who are fighting? In spite of what so-called reality feeds us, being around fighting people is very unpleasant. When people get along well and are kind and respectful of one another, it is like a wonderful aroma filling the room, causing others to get along better.
You can be the one who sets that example. You can be the aroma of the brethren living in unity. Be the oil!