The Pleasant Harp

Monday, January 25, 2010

[print version] [audio version Listen to the audio version of The Pleasant Harp]

"Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery." (Psalms 81:2)

A case could certainly be made for the idea that the harp is the most significant musical instrument in the Bible. The harp both begins and ends the Biblical record of man-made instruments. Also, one of the most important Biblical figures, King David himself, was a skilled harp player and commanded that harp music be an integral part of the temple music program as well (II Chr. 29:25).

Here are some other interesting Bible facts concerning the harp:
  • The harp is mentioned over 50 times in the Bible.

  • The harp is the first man-made musical instrument mentioned in the Bible.

      "And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ." (Genesis 4:21)

  • The harp is the last instrument used in the Biblical chronology.
      "And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God." (Revelation 15:2)

  • David, the "man after God's own heart" (I Sam. 13:14), played the harp.

  • Harp music helped to cure Saul's physical, emotional, and spiritual problems.
      "And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him." (1 Samuel 16:23)

  • The harp was used to accompany psalms.
      "Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm." (Psalms 98:5)

  • Temple musicians "excelled" on the harp.
      "And Mattithiah, and Elipheleh, and Mikneiah, and Obededom, and Jeiel, and Azaziah, with harps on the Sheminith to excel." (1 Chronicles 15:21)

  • The harp was also used for:
    1. Parties(Gen. 31:27)
    2. Prophesying (I Chr. 25:1)
    3. Healing (I Sam. 16:23)
    4. Mourning (Job 30:31)
    5. Praising (Ps. 33:2)
    6. Telling Parables (Ps. 49:4)
    7. Singing (Ps. 71:22)
    8. Worshipping Idols (Daniel 3:5, 7, 10, 15)
Instrumental music provides a wonderful avenue to praise the Lord and minister to believers. We should encourage, equip, train, and enable instrumentalists in our churches to praise the Lord with their instruments.

Personally, I think it would be great to re-introduce the use of harp music in our services. You may wish to consider purchasing a harp and learning to play as well.

For an interesting read, check out the web site of this Jewish family who have recently begun producing harps in Jerusalem: House of Harrari, Biblical Harp Makers

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Curtis Hollembeak


Curtis holds a bachelor's degree in Bible with a music minor, as well as a master's degree in Sacred Music, having studied under Dr. Frank Garlock, president of Majesty Music, and Ray and Ann Gibbs, well-known Christian singers. He has served as music director and jr. high/high school supervisor at Grace Baptist Church of Mankato, Minnesota; school music director at the Franklin Road Christian School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; media engineer for the Sword of the Lord in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; and, full-time music director at Second Baptist Church and Twin City Christian Academy in Festus, Missouri. He is currently self-employed and serves in the music ministry of the Berean Baptist Church in Rockford, IL. Curtis is co-founder and President of the Asaph Music Co. He regularly sings bass with the Bible Truth Chorale on recordings produced by Bible Truth Music at Faith Music Missions.

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