Amanda Gorman’s Soaring Inaugural Poem and the Scripture at its Heart

Amanda Gorman's inspirational inaugural poem "The Hill We Climb," and the Bible reference on justice and healing at its heart.

Amanda Gorman speaks with yellow dress.
Poet Amanda Gorman speaking at the Library of Congress (July 2017) - Library of Congress

Amanda Gorman Speaks Hope

Last week’s inauguration featured a moment of beauty: Amanda Gorman’s recitation of her spoken-word poem, “The Hill We Climb” (listen to it in full here).

After weeks of national stress and turmoil, her words were the balm we needed.

It offered hope.

It inspired.

It reminded us of the past so we can climb our hill together.

Her poem is covered with Biblical imagery: Light, shade, hills, fig trees, and more.

There’s one moment, though, which showcased the Biblical foundation for her hope. Though she’s quoting from Hamilton, it’s a direct quote from the prophet Micah.

Here’s the moment in her poem….

Amanda Gorman reads "The Hill We Climb" at the Presidential Inauguration ceremony.
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
and no one shall make them afraid.
If we're to live up to our own time,
then victory won't lie in the blade.
But in all the bridges we've made…

– from “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman

The visual of each person sitting under their own fig tree is a symbol of security, prosperity, and peace. No one is “afraid” of oppressive rulers, enslavement, or war when they are under their own vine.

It also means each family has daily provision, something they can rely on without the intervention of others. This is something we all long for deeply: For the world to be at peace, where no one is starving or running from war.

The Scripture Inspiration for "The Hill We Climb"

We long for a world ruled by God’s justice and grace. This is why, I believe, we innately care about justice and wholeness so much: God has placed that desire in our spiritual DNA.

The verse she quoted from Micah is sandwiched in a beautiful chapter, where the prophet explains God’s just rule on earth “in the last days”….

In the last days
the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established
as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
and peoples will stream to it.
Many nations will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He will judge between many peoples
and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
Everyone will sit under their own vine
and under their own fig tree,
and no one will make them afraid,
for the LORD Almighty has spoken.
- Micah 4:1-4 (NIV, emphasis mine)

Micah’s prophecy envisions more than people having financial security and food. God’s reign will bring…

  • Exaltation: The world's worship of the King of Kings.
  • All the nations coming to and worshipping God.
  • Justice for all people.
  • Total peace and the ceasing of all war: “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.”
  • Security and provision for each person: “Everyone will sit under their own vine.”
  • Safety: No more fear or terror.

On one level, Micah addresses our deepest needs: safety, peace, and community. These are personal needs, ones you can’t live without.

At the heart of Gorman’s poem is a cry for justice and peace for us as a nation. But Michah’s prophecy also addresses those needs world-wide, looking to the future when God brings His kingdom in full.

Be the Light

Her poem ends with a stirring call-to-action:

For there is always light,
if only we're brave enough to see it.
If only we're brave enough to be it.

It’s a call to all Americans to be active in being the light to each other. Though her poem is not focused on Christianity, its final call reflects Christ’s words to you and me….

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
– Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

🔥 Bonus Sauce!

Watch Lin-Manuel Miranda, the writer and star of Hamilton, surprise Amanda Gorman on Good Morning America!

Nerd-out and learn more about the prophet Micah....

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