“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.” Psalm 100:1
I’ll never forget my conversation with Erin, who is an accomplished violinist. As we were talking about violins, I asked her whether or not the coveted violins made by Stradivarius were really all that different. As you may know, on the very rare occasion when one becomes available it will sell for amounts of well over a million dollars. Because she had heard a Stradivarius played, she affirmed that the difference between a Stradivarius violin and even the best of the others was significant. Which then led me to ask her, “What makes the sounds from the Strads so great?”
Erin explained that Stradivarius lived in a small Italian village in the 1700s. Since he was too poor to buy fine wood for his violins, he pulled his wood from the polluted harbor of his village. Three hundred years ago, the harbors were the equivalent of our town dumps. They were a smelly, dismal stew of trash, human and animal waste, and garbage.
As experts analyze the wood from these famous violins, they discover that microbes in the contaminated water had eaten away the inside of the cells in the wood. The only thing left of the cells was the superstructure. So, when a violinist plays a Stradivarius violin, it’s like an organ with thousands of sound chambers, each reverberating the sound of the bow moving across the strings.
What a great picture of what Jesus has done for us! Valueless and lost in the soul-rotting disease of our own sin, Jesus came and pulled us from the sludge. As the Bible puts it, He loved us while we were sinners. In other words, even though we had been eaten hollow by sin, He reached down from the cross and wiped us clean. And then He crafted us into priceless instruments to resonate the strong and distinct sounds of His love and grace and glory.
No wonder David wrote, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness!” (Psalm 100:1 ESV). And Paul reminds us that with the indwelling Spirit in control, our lives should be filled with “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19). Our lives should resound with gratitude and not grumpiness, thanksgiving and praise regardless of our life circumstances. When Paul and Silas sang in jail, believe me, the jailor had never heard anything like it before! Like the Stradivarius violin, the sound quality of the song that Jesus puts in our restored souls should be noticeably different than the other “violins” around us. The song we sing with our lives should be joyful and glad. And this difference is not just for our benefit, or the benefit of those around us—it’s for the listening pleasure of the Master Creator.
Just as Stradivarius must have smiled at the sound of melodies played on his instruments, God delights in the beautiful songs that His instruments create when our lives are tuned to sing His praise.