the author standing at the foot of St. Patrick's mountain

Psalm 114: When Mountains Skip Like Rams!

 March 5, 2020

If you are looking for creative metaphors, similes and personification (where inanimate objects are given human qualities), all rooted in creation, you need look no further than the Psalms. Trees clap their hands in applause at the works of God and mountains skip like rams in joy. Psalm 114 is a prime example of this explosion of poetry.

Psalm 114

In Psalm 114, we have a playful remembering of the pivotal event of Hebrew history, the Exodus. Psalm 114 is part of the Hallel, a series of hymns of praise, Psalms 113-118, used at Hebrew festivals. As such they would be known by all. You need only intone the first note and all in attendance would join in, much like the strains of Auld Lang Syne at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Psalm 114 is considered by some as the most original of all the psalms. It is a concise, artistic, hymn that includes samples of Hebrew poetry’s tendency to give human characteristics to inanimate objects in nature. The mountains skip, the sea fleas in this psalm. Elsewhere in the Old Testament the trees and mountains clap their hands.

God’s Glory

Psalm 114 extols the glory of God as manifested in the Exodus. Not only did the sea part, the mountains skipped like rams, “The sea looked and fled, Jordan turned back, the mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs.” (3-4) The writer playfully asks the question, why did this happen, knowing full well why. “What ails you, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back? Mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs?” (5-6)

He answers his own question in the concluding verses. It was because of the Lord. Before the God of Israel, all creation trembles. The seas obey and even the mountains, seemingly unshakeable, run before the Lord. “Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.” (7-8)

God, Who Moves Mountains, Can Melt the Hardest Heart.

What better reason to celebrate and rejoice? We have a God who can do the impossible, at whose command even the mountains move. If our God can move mountains, God can melt the hardest heart, turn us away from the ways of destruction to the ways of joy.

Lent is a time for conversion, turning away from the ways of the world to the ways of God. What needs to be changed in your life today in order to experience Easter joy?


This post is part of a series of blog posts on the Psalms. Sign up to follow this blog and receive a free copy of  Still Dancingthe second book in my Dancing through Life Series.      click here to sign up

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