What does the horn represent in the Bible?

There are many representations of horns in the bible, horns of the alter, the little horn in Daniel, horns of Moses and the horn of salvation, which is mentioned several times in the Bible.

In the Old Testament, the word horn signifies many things. One usage of horn was to refer to a pointed bony structure growing out of an animal’s head (Genesis 22:13). Animal horns, used for fighting, protection, and securing dominance, became symbols of strength, power, and victory. Often, Scripture’s mention of a “horn” is as a literary symbol representing potency and power.

In Daniel 7:7 and 7:24, the ten horns of Daniel’s fourth beast represent ten kings. “All the horns of the wicked also will I cut off; but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted” Psalm 75:10. In other words, the righteous will prevail, no matter how strong the wicked seem to be. In Jeremiah 48:25, “Moab’s horn is cut off” means that the strength of Moab is gone. The four horns in Zechariah 1:18–19 represent the powerful nations that attacked and scattered Israel. Animal horns were also used as receptacles for oil (1 Samuel 16:1) or as a shofar trumpet (Joshua 6:5). The prayer in Psalm 92:10 contains both a reference to oil and a figurative use of a horn: “But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil”

“And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.” 1 Samuel 2:1, indicating the strength that will come from her having a child. In Luke 1:69, Zechariah praises God “And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;” In this case, the “horn of salvation” is a reference to Jesus the Christ, the powerful deliverer and king who was soon to be born.

Another significant instance of the word horn in the Old Testament is in reference to the protrusion at each corner of the altar (Exodus 27:2). In worship, the horns of the altar were dabbed with blood to purify them and make atonement for sin (Leviticus 8:15; 4:6). The horns of the altar speak of the power of God’s salvation. That part of the altar also became a place of refuge and sanctuary for a fugitive (1 Kings 1:50).

We often see the horn in Scripture as a symbol of salvation. “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” Psalm 18:2

In the New Testament, Jesus is the horn of salvation (Luke 1:68–69). A title applied to God the Father is also applied to Jesus; they are both called “the horn of salvation.” The very name Jesus means “The Lord Is Salvation.” The salvation Jesus offers is strong, triumphant, and powerful. Just like the horns on the altar offered refuge and atonement, Jesus offers clemency and cleansing through His death on the cross. It is to say, however strong our spiritual foe, the horn of our salvation is stronger still.

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© Tony - W.A.M