The Abrahamic Promise
The Birth of Jesus
Our Lord’s Return
Glorification of the Church
“I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will open my dark sayings upon the harp.”—Psalm 49:4.
The harp is a musical instrument invented many centuries ago. When properly strung and played upon it yields sweet music, making glad the heart. The first mention of the harp made in the Bible is in Genesis 4:21, and the inventor’s name was Jubal. He was therefore called “the father of all such as handle the harp and organ”.
It was 1812 years before the coming of Jesus in the flesh that God organized the twelve tribes of Israel, the descendants of Jacob, into a nation, which nation thereafter was known as the nation of Israel. It was the only nation with which God made a covenant, and he did not recognize any other nation in the same way. (Amos 3:2) The nation of Israel was used to make living pictures or types, foreshadowing better things to come; and those who study the Scriptural account of Israel’s experiences are able to approximate closely future events which will be good for mankind.—1 Corinthians 10:1-13; Hebrews 10:1.
With the nation of Israel the harp was an instrument consecrated to joy and exaltation. David, who for forty years was king of Israel, was an expert player on the harp, and it will be noted that in the Psalms often the harp is used to symbolize or teach some great truth. The Jews used this instrument on occasions of joy, such as jubilees and festivals.
Josephus, a writer of Jewish history, is authority for the statement that the harp usually had ten strings, but that at times it was smaller and had only eight strings. The number ten is used in the Scriptures to symbolize that which is complete or perfect as pertaining to man. We would understand, then, that the harp with ten strings pictures the great fundamental truths concerning the divine plan. When two of these strings were absent, there being only eight, the indication is apparently given that there would be a time when two important features of the divine plan would not be seen by men. God promised that greater light should come upon his Word at the end of the age, or end of the world, which means the social order of things. Since we have reached that time, we confidently look for more light and thus we find it.
The Book of Revelation is written largely in symbols. In Revelation 14:2,3 and 15:2,3 we find a brief description of a class of glorious beings who are playing upon their harps, and these are described as the ‘harps of God’. The harp here is used as a sign or symbol of some great truth, or feature of the divine program; in fact, a great deal of the Bible is written in symbolic phrase. The Lord uses objects which we know to illustrate great unseen things which we do not know; and the harp is so used.