What’s in a name?

June 18, 2014.

What’s in a name? Last night we talked about Abigail in I Samuel and the courage she had to go to David and convince him not to destroy the house of Nabal for his foolish decision. There is something interesting in this story and throughout the bible for that matter. The importance of names. The following passage comes at a time where Nabal (who’s name means “fool”) has made a foolish decision and brought the wrath of David and his 400 men of war upon him. Listen to what Nabal’s intelligent wife Abigail says:

“When Abigail saw David, she hurried and got down from the donkey and fell before David on her face and bowed to the ground. She fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him. But I your servant did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent.”
(1 Samuel 25:23-25)

“For as his name is, so is he.” That’s a powerful statement to me. This is probably not the first time that she had had to cover her foolish husband’s tracks. But, as she said, he was living up to his name. Something that has always been interesting to me is the importance of names in the bible. Listen to the story of Jacob when he receives his new name:

“And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
(Genesis 32:24-28)

Israel means “prevails with God.” Now this is a story that is somewhat hard to understand so I’m not going to go into the theology of it because that’s not my point today. My point is that Jacob asked for a blessing, and the blessing he got was a name change. That to me shows the importance of names to God, so much so that they can be considered a blessing.

This is really cool to me, though I don’t really know why. But you can learn some things about biblical characters just by reading there names. Jacob would go on to name this place Peniel.

“So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”
(Genesis 32:30)

So even geographical locations were named by their significance (you can actually see this a lot in the Old Testament).Names are important to God. They are more than just a name, they are a meaning. So, what does this mean for us?

“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,and her salvation as a burning torch. The nations shall see your righteousness,and all the kings your glory,and you shall be called by a new namethat the mouth of the Lord will give.”
(Isaiah 62:1-2)

When we wear name of Christ, this is not a light thing. When we call ourselves Christians, we are saying more than just “I believe in Christ.” Or at least we should be. The name of Christ should be given no reproach, regardless of situation. Have you ever thought about this? I know I have forgotten it before. Our reputation reflects on Him. When we do Christ like things, people can see Christ in us. When we don’t, people get the wrong idea about Christians, thus the wrong idea about Christ. Wearing his name is much more important than many Christians realized.

Let us do all for His glory.

Suggested Daily Reading: Genesis 32, I Samuel 25, Isaiah 62, Acts 11.

The Lord bless you and keep you.

-Walter

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