And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps…
Evidently more is made of music in heaven than we are wont to make of it here on earth.
1. There was first the believers' song. Its theme was redemption, the salvation of the soul through the blood of the Lamb. So its singers were the ransomed.
(1) This song was "new" necessarily, for the theme was absolutely fresh in celestial history. There had been sin in heaven, and there had been justice wrought on those who had sinned. Some of the angels had fallen from their high estate. No atonement was ever made or offered in their behalf. Here was therefore a subject never before celebrated in the songs of God's house. It was exclusive also, for only those who knew what it meant could sing it with the spirit and the understanding. Emphasis must be laid upon the expressions of personal acknowledgment. "Thou hast redeemed us"; "Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests." The experience of each child of God is individual. Reminiscence is a part of his duty, and it always leads to gratitude, and starts a new song.
(2) It was a great song. For the multitude of singers was simply innumerable. So the sound rose "like mighty thunderings, and the voice of many waters."(3) It was likewise a royal song. The redeemed do not say "we shall reign," but "we are reigning." Christians are the regal and the regnant race in the world now.
2. Next came the song of the angels. The theme of this was the character and rank of Jesus Christ. Observe the vast numbers of the singers, and the stress they put on their strain with a "loud voice" "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels," etc. Observe the vast ascription of honours to Christ: Saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb," etc. This seems to include everything that mind can conceive of supreme ownership and control. They lay the universe down at His feet. Observe the special reason they suggest for their surrender. It is as "the Lamb that was slain" that they exalt Him to the eminence. These angels had no part in the atonement, but they knew just where Christ's greatest exploits had been done. They had for ages "desired earnestly to look into" this mystery of His humiliation; now they understood what it meant.
3. Then the choir of creatures begins the anthem assigned to them; and now the theme is the dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ (ver. 13). Just notice the very singular voices employed in this choir. Birds and beasts, and worms and fishes — oh, wonder! how will such creatures be able to sing together? God is to listen, and He will understand them and be satisfied. God hears and loves what does not ever reach us; our silences may be full of singing to Him.
4. Now we reach the grand chorus with which the singing concluded. Led by representatives, whose mysterious nature and office we cannot altogether explain, it would seem as if the whole three choirs burst forth into one final ascription: "And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever."
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
WEB: Now when he had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.