What’s in a name?
Whether it’s common or unique, a name carries great weight. I started every year of teaching Latin and Greek etymology by assigning my students an essay discussing the meaning of their names, and how they wanted to live up to (or apart from) the meaning. I was surprised how many had no clue as to their name’s origin. The assignment often sparked good conversations. Students with unique names for which no established meaning existed were required to decide what they wanted the name to symbolize and how they might live to confirm the meaning.
Undoubtedly, names carry connotations, good and bad. In naming our children, certain names were immediately crossed off as possibilities because of past interactions with like-named people. Huh-uh. No way, Hosea! We won’t stick that name on our little baby! XXXX 😉 Can you relate?
Always, always, always on notes to students on research papers, project rubrics, and as often as I could otherwise, I included the students’ names. Notes such as, “Great job, Kerri! I knew you could do it!” or “What a tremendous improvement, Matthew!” or “Thought-provoking point, Gretchen” may have looked like red ink graffiti, but I hope they carried the intended personalization to their hearts. The heart was, of course, what needed the deepest encouragement.
Even now, and even with as old-fashioned as my name may be, I love to hear “I love you, Linda” from my husband. The name makes me sure I’m the intended target. (Not that there’s any doubt, but still . . . . )
And, right about now is where you expect me to round the corner and make a spiritual application. So I won’t let you down.
Do you realize how many times God’s name is mentioned in His Word? Not just the almost “generic” terms we’ve come to traditionally use. His Name is not only God, Lord, Jesus, Christ, Saviour, Emmanuel, Eloheim, YAHWEH. He has many more names. Names which indicate His all-sufficient character.
We need every single one of these truths regarding Who He is, the Great I Am, to minister to our hearts. Not all at once. No. But each in its intended time. For its specific purpose. As needed.
It’s been a joy for me to meditate on the Names of my Lord. Each one magnifies my view of Him, of His continuing work in my life, His ability to meet my needs, and His graciousness to me. You may know some of the these, but I’ll list just a few with special significance to whet your appetite for more. Ready?
El Shaddai is used seven times in the Bible, exclusively in the book of Genesis. This Name means “All-sufficient One, Lord God Almighty.” Surely as we see the God of creation, we can have no doubt as to His sufficient ability to care for us, His beloved children! Praise His Name! That truth comforts my anxious spirit.
Jehovah Adonai, meaning “Lord and Master,” appears 434 times in Scripture. The name is used most frequently in Ezekiel where we repeatedly read the phrase “that they may know I am the Lord.” He IS the Master of all. Acknowledging His Lordship in my life works out much more beneficially than resisting His leadership. This Name increases my submission and humility.
Jehovah-Raah is used in Psalm 23. Know what it means? The Lord is my Shepherd. What joy to recognize the intimacy indicated by this Name. He cares for me, feeds me, and enjoys my companionship. So sweet.
Jehovah Rapha is His Name in Exodus 15:26. “God my Healer!” Amen! No one else can minister healing to my body and spirit as my great God can. He can even heal my broken heart.
Jehovah Mekoddishkem occurs twice in the Scripture. The Name means “The Lord Who sanctifies you or makes you holy.” What a tremendous comfort to know He’s still working on me. I’m a work in progress by His cleansing hand! I’m not counting on my own ability to improve. I’m drawing daily nearer to the One Who will accomplish His work in my heart. What a relief to know this truth!
I’m having trouble getting stopped with my list, but I’ll share one more. Jehovah Jireh means “the Lord will provide.” I will never have a need He cannot meet. The Name is used only once, but it was given at the time God met Abraham on Mount Moriah, imminently stopping the sacrifice of Isaac, and promising His substitutionary death for the world. That’s enough for me! How about you? And it’s all in His matchless Name!
The Names of God are probably even more valuable to us than to Him! Satan doesn’t want us to call The Lord by His Name. I’ll bet he quakes when I use these powerful Names. He doesn’t want me to realize the treasure trove of Who this great “I Am” actually is to His children.
But as for me, move over Devil. I’m calling my Saviour by His Names, as many as I can! And I will claim each worthy attribute as I do so.
I’ll never exhaust all there is to learn about Him in His Word! Praise His matchless Name!
“Let them praise the Name of the LORD: for His Name alone is excellent; His glory is above the earth and Heaven.” Psalm 148:13