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Slum Songs

Today's Devotional

Read: Isaiah 35 | Bible in a Year: Joshua 22–24; Luke 3

They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Isaiah 35:10

Cateura is a small slum in Paraguay, South America. Desperately poor, its villagers survive by recycling items from its rubbish dump. But from these unpromising conditions something beautiful has emerged—an orchestra.

With a violin costing more than a house in Cateura, the orchestra had to get creative, crafting its own instruments from their garbage supply. Violins are made from oil cans with bent forks as tailpieces. Saxophones have come from drainpipes with bottle tops for keys. Cellos are made from tin drums with gnocchi rollers for tuning pegs. Hearing Mozart played on these contraptions is a beautiful thing. The orchestra has gone on tour in many countries, lifting the sights of its young members.

Violins from landfills. Music from slums. That’s symbolic of what God does. For when the prophet Isaiah envisions God’s new creation, a similar picture of beauty-from-poverty emerges, with barren lands bursting into blooming flowers (Isaiah 35:1–2), deserts flowing with streams (vv. 6–7), castaway war tools crafted into garden instruments (2:4), and impoverished people becoming whole to the sounds of joyful songs (35:5–6, 10).

“The world sends us garbage,” Cateura’s orchestra director says. “We send back music.” And as they do, they give the world a glimpse of the future, when God will wipe away the tears of every eye and poverty will be no more.

How have you seen God turn the “garbage” of your life into something beautiful? How might He wish to bring “music” out of your pain?

Holy Spirit, turn the poverty in my life into something beautiful.


When we think of words like joy, gladness, and singing, the book of Psalms comes to mind. However, what we see in Isaiah 35—and the book as a whole—enables us to see that labeling Isaiah as the “prophet of praise” isn’t far-fetched. Isaiah 12, which includes two “songs of praise,” is another case in point. The prophet’s worship-leading words include exhortations to “Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things” (v. 5) and “Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you” (v. 6).

By |2021-03-26T09:06:07-04:00March 26th, 2021|
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