All throughout scripture, we read find harps sprinkled throughout scripture. It's important to note, God doesn't spare one letter in his word, everything has it's meaning, we just need the Holy Spirit to open our eyes! And that's the purpose of this post! From the 24 Elders in Heaven throwing their harps down before Jesus Christ, to Jeduthun prophesying with a harp, we'll be taking a deep dive into the meaning of harps, and see what else the light of revelation reveals!
First occurrence of the harp in the bible?
It all starts in Genesis 🌍Cain's Descendants
"And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ."
Cain's descendants are the first recorded family tree listed in the bible and they predate Seth's generation
Enoch (Cain named the city he built after Enoch his son)
Lamech's sons through his first wife Adah
Jabal, the father of all who dwell in tents and who have cattle
Jubal, the father of all who handle the harp and organ
Lamech's sons through his second wife Zillah
Tubal-cain, an instructor of artificers in brass and iron
Naamah (Sister of Tubal-cain)
It's important to note that the first time a harp is mentioned, an organ in paired with it. There is a reason for this we'll address in a bit.
What Does a Harp Represent?
The harp symbolizes testimony. In 1 Samuel 10:5-7 Saul is anointed king, and is instructed to go to a certain hill where he'll meet a group of prophets, and when he goes to them he'll start prophesying with them. When Saul goes to the hill he hears the prophets playing the instruments he begins to prophesy, among the instruments mentioned, a harp is mentioned. Saul prophesying was his sign the Holy Spirit came upon him. It was at that moment he was turned into another man, this was Saul's testimony of God.
He received a new heart & became a new man after the Holy Spirit come upon him (1 Samuel 10: 9 "...God gave him another heart...", 1 Samuel 10:6 "...thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.") This is prophesied in Ezekiel 36:26 "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh."
Later in scripture, when the Holy Spirit left Saul because of his rebellion, an evil spirit came to torment him. In 1 Samuel 16:14-23, Saul's officials knew they needed someone who could play the harp, but what did they know about the harp that would help Saul's demonic oppression?
The answer is buried deep in the text, so let's dig! David was filled with the Holy Spirit and was called to play the harp before Saul and when he would play the harp, the evil spirit would leave. So why is this? David playing the harp reminded Saul of his testimony, and we know from Revelation 12:11 that we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. This remembrance of Saul's testimony made the unclean spirit leave him. This is a really sad moment in scripture, Saul being void of the Holy Spirit only had past memories of God saving his life. Never let your walk with God get stale where you just reminisce on the "good times" with God! Seek the Lord and ask him to fill your life with testimonies!
Revelation 19:10 expands on why our testimony is so powerful, it's the spirit of prophecy but what about our testimonies makes them prophetic?
Testimonies are prophetic because they testify of God's victory over your life which foreshadows God's will having victory over all of creation when Christ returns. Psalm 92:3 David says to give thanks and praises to the Lord upon an instrument of 10 strings, the harp and psaltery "Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound."
The 10 strings represent the 10 commandments God gave mankind in Exodus 31:18. The 10 commandments were called "two tablets of testimony" because God's 10 commandments testify of God's righteousness, a prophetic message of God's law condemning mankind and need of a savior, Jesus Christ to fulfill the whole law through his own righteousness!
Instruments need to be played, so how is this spiritual harp played? Simple, with God's fingers! Exodus 31:18 States God wrote the law with his finger, & in Jeremiah 31:33 God says he will place his law in our hearts. Our hearts have the 10 strings of the tablets of testimony which prophecy of Christ's return. In the same way you play an instrument with fingers, God plays the harp of the heart, pulling the "strings" of the heart! The same thing happens when you testify of God's power in your life!
In Revelation 5:8 there are 24 Elders holding harps. These Elders represent the 24 hours to the day, each elder's harp represents their testimony that God created the hour they were created in. They also testify to God what happens in each hour of the day. Their testimony to the world is that God created their hour, and their testimony to God is what happens in their hour, each day.
Finally, all prophecies glorify God in the same way a harp is played for worship. The sound it makes gives glory to God, and the player is servicing worship. 1 Chronicles 25:3 Jeduthun prophesied with a harp, "to give thanks and to praise the Lord."
In Job 21, Job describes wicked people and states they "rejoice at the sound of the organ." If wicked people rejoice at the sound of an organ being played, then there has to be something about the organ that makes happiness evil when it's played. This bible verse makes the inverse of this true as well, if it's evil to rejoice at the sound of an organ, then it must be good to weep at the sound of an organ. Job 30:31 Job says his organ is the voice of them that weep. How did Job know so much about God? Because he was a prophet!! The organ is an instrument of prophetic lamentations, David was a prophet and lamented, Jeremiah was a prophet and wrote the book of Lamentations where Jeremiah is prophesying a weeping over God's judgement to Jerusalem.
The organ is the sound of weeping and morning. We must humble ourselves before the Lord, and weeping closely follows. James 4:8-10 paints a clear path, get close to God, mourn & weep, humble yourself before God and then he will lift you up. Luke 7:38, the woman is kissing, cleaning, and anointing Jesus' feet with her tears. Jesus' response to her describes this weeping perfectly, "Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little."
The Lord is to be feared and greatly praised, his Holiness and mercy shines a great and terrible light on the weight of sin. Our God is so holy and perfect, we as sinners have only one response, to weep at his presence. We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, the earth trembles simply from God looking at it (Psalm 104:32), devils tremble simply knowing God exists (James 2:19), and all of creation will tremble and be shaken out of place in the end times (Haggai 2:6).
Eternal weeping is for those that will be cast into eternal darkness, (Matthew 8:12). Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is a time to laugh, mourn & dance. Psalm 30:5 says weeping only endures for a night, and when Jesus returns all the weeping will be turned into joy! Revelation 5:5 "And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof."
Spiritually, weeping is done between the porch and the alter of your temple (Joel 2:17 "Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar"). Weeping before the Lord at his holiness and awesomeness is worship, Joel 2:12 "Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:"
Jubal was the first person in the office of a prophet, prophesies bring joy and mourning, the harp for joy and the organ for mourning. Ecclesiastes 1:18, "For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow." and in 2 Kings 8:12, Elisha knew through a prophetic word the king of Syria would set fire to the Israelites strong holds, kill their young men and children. 2 Corinthians 2:4 "For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you."
God's heart does hurt, the lack of faith, the wickedness, it all grieves his heart because he loves his creation. Prophecy brings the truth to a situation, and the truth hurts. Ezra 10:1 "Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore."
1 Corinthians 14:31 "...ye may all prophesy one by one..." which means all of us in Christ have a harp and organ in our spiritual temple. Romans 12:6 "let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith" With an instrument comes practice, and getting your ear "in tune".
When God is playing your harp or organ, he gives glory to himself (Isaiah 42:8 "my glory will I not give to another"), but the bible says in Jeremiah 23:26 that there are prophets that prophesy lies out of their own heart, this person is playing their own harp and organ with their heart (playing with themselves).
Another musician can play your harp, 1 Kings 22:19-23 says there was a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab's prophets. Getting accustomed to the sound of God's perfect tune takes time to develop discernment. But what's always consistent in all true prophecies is they give glory and honor to Jesus Christ, and are a form of true worship.
Hungry for more? Check out this post on the Sea of Glass and learn how this all ties into the prophetic!