The Mountains Skip Like Rams (Psalm 114)

Psalm 114 is a psalm about God’s deliverance of Israel from the house of slavery in Egypt. The psalm speaks of the time when Israel went forth from Egypt and became God’s sanctuary. Then the psalmist declares that “the sea looked and fled and the Jordan turned back (114:3).” He then asks the sea what caused it to flee and what caused the Jordan to turn back. These are, of course, two of the great miracles that the LORD performed for Israel when He split the Red Sea and allowed Israel to walk through on dry land and then when He stopped the Jordan and had it pile up as a heap as the people walked through into the Promised Land. These two biblical events are emblazoned in our minds and etched on the pages of Scripture, identifiable and unforgettable.

But then we have to consider the other events which are described next. After speaking of the two water miracles, the psalmist says, “The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs (114:4).” Later he asks, “(What ails you,) O mountains, that you skip like rams, O hills, like lambs? (114:6)” Evidently the mountains and the hills moved so much that they appeared to be skipping about like sheep in the midst of the flock. Now this is a mystery, for when in the pages of Scripture have the mountains ever skipped like rams or the hills played like lambs? We search back into the pages of the Bible, into the history of Israel or even into the sayings and the visions of the prophets and we scan the pages in vain for any event like that. There is no historical time when the mountains and the hills “skipped like rams.”

And so, since there is no event like that looking backward, then we must need to look forward. This, in fact, is exactly what is going on here. First the psalmist is remembering the times in Israel’s history when the LORD performed miracles to rescue His people and he is also seeing into the distant future when the Lord Jesus Christ will return for His people. In that day, when the Lord returns, the mountains will skip like rams and the hills like lambs. The following are some verses that describe the events of Jesus’ return which suggest the mountains and the hills skipping as the earth writhes in anguish over the coming of the King.

Psalm 97:5 “The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the LORD.” It is not difficult to imagine that if mountains are melting like wax, the hills will also skipping like rams.

Isaiah 55:12 “The mountains and the hills will break forth with shouts of joy.” If they are shouting, could they not also be skipping?

Revelation 6:14-17 “Every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” In the cataclysmic chaos marking the end of the age before the return of the Lord, every mountain will rock as a drunken man. This is the terrifying time when the mountains will appear to skip.

Ezekiel 38:20 “The earth will shake at the presence of the LORD and the mountains will be thrown down.” This is the time at the end when the LORD’s zeal and blazing wrath will manifest themselves in earthly upheavals. Again, this could be described as the hills skipping like lambs.

Isaiah 42:15 “I will lay waste the mountains and the hills.”

Habakkuk 3:6 “The perpetual mountains were shattered, the ancient hills collapsed.”

Nahum 1:5 “Mountains quake because of Him and the hills dissolve; Indeed the earth is upheaved by His presence.” In this picture of the day of the Lord’s wrath and vengeance, we can imagine the hills skipping like lambs.

Micah 1:4 “The mountains will melt under Him and the valleys will be split.”

Zechariah 14:4 “The Mount of Olives will be split in the middle.”

My contention is that this psalm not only describes the miracles of the LORD moving the waters in Israel’s past at the Red Sea and the Jordan, but it also describes the way the mountains will move and shake and “skip like rams” on the terrifying last day when the Lord Jesus comes to judge the world. That will be an awesome day – “Tremble, O earth, before the LORD, before the God of Jacob (Psalm 114:7).”   SDG   rmb   8/9/2016

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