“…protect them by the power of your name” John 17:11 (NIV)
I recall a time when I was a young fellow when I asked my mother where my given names of Gordon Bruce came from. She started to laugh and for a moment could not respond to my query.
I knew of her Scottish background and also knew that my given names were Scottish. Further I knew that my surname was English so I was a bit puzzled about who might be in our family tree with my given names and why he was so important that he had me as his namesake.
What my mother told me about how I was named caused me to be horrified at first and then join her in the joke. Back when I was born in Ontario you had 30 days to fill out the forms to name your child and post them to the provincial government offices.
My parents argued back and forth for the entire 30 days about what I would be named. My beloved father wished me to bear his own father’s names. My mother would have none of it. She could not see giving a child the names Percival Bamlet. Oh how grateful I was that my mother won the argument!
In Gentile society we mostly think of a name as a means of distinguishing one person from another. A name is a “handle” to make a connection with a person. However, in Hebrew society naming a child was vastly more than giving the child a tag to distinguish the child from their friends. A name was a one word definition of the person, it represented the person and all they were in life. By naming a child by some significant name Hebrew people hoped and prayed their child would live up to the name.
So when it says in Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” (NIV), it means that in running to the Lord you find shelter and protection because of His almighty power, wisdom, love, and fatherly care. The writer was not suggesting you run to a “name” in the literal sense.
So the various names for God in the Bible are treasures for His people as they speak of His work on their behalf. In the Old Testament God is known by various names including the Lord our righteousness in Jeremiah 23:5,6, the Lord our healer in Exodus 15:26 and so on.
God is known for the many things He does to rescue and deliver His people from their enemies. In the New Testament God the Son is given the name Jesus which means “Jehovah saves”.
When we are feeling the weight of our sin we can cling to the name Jehovah-tsidkenu which means the Lord our righteousness. When we are confused and at our wits end with our problems we can look to Jehovah-jireh which means God sees and God will provide.
So we find rich help in knowing the various names of God and using the one we need at the time of crisis.
God is so versatile and is able to do so much for His people. Do you know this God of all grace and comfort? Are you thankful He has opened your eyes to the truth of His great character?
If what I have written leaves you confused why not pray and ask God to make himself known to you? If you study the life of Jesus in the Gospels you will see God in action.
Look and see, look and live! What’s in a name? All you need if it is the name of God.