What’s in a name? Does the name of a person embody their character? For example, does Karen tell you all you need to know about a person’s personality? What about Billy Jo Bob? Or Alexander? Or Marx? In the West, I think we’ve lost something when it comes to names. We tend, as parents, to give our children names at birth, before we really know anything about them. Sometimes they are family names, or names of people we favor. My first daughter, for example, is named for my wife’s best friend from high school, who passed not long after we were married. Our daughter has not grown up into anyone like the best friend. Maybe, in time, that will change.
In other cultures, there is a birth name, and then a name you choose or earn for yourself. You see this sometimes in the Catholic tradition, where a child chooses the name of a saint as their baptismal name, of upon joining an order, they choose a name for being in the order. But you also see this name-changing in high school or college where someone received a nick-name, or he “makes a name for himself”, which often means they take a name they’ve been given and apply meaning and importance to that name. Many have heard of Wal-mart, named for Sam Walton. Other names like Macy’s, JC Penney’s, Woolworth’s, and a host of others that over the years have become household names (Sony, Sanyo, Ford, Chevrolet, etc.) because a person made a name for himself. In my own feeble way, I am even now applying meaning to the name Meritt through my weblog, merittmusings.com.
So a name, though it can have its own inherent meaning (if you trace it back through its parent language), can also acquire meaning through its use. You become known in your workplace or your area of influence by your name. Your name means you. And people associate either good or bad reputation with that name. If others appear with that name, they also receive the same credit or debit as the case may be.
But what about the Name? As this Proverb points out, there is one Name that is a strong tower, a place of refuge and strength. It is the thing itself. God is His Name. But what is His Name?
The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the LORD by name. The LORD passed by before him and proclaimed: “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness, keeping loyal love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. But he by no means leaves the guilty unpunished, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children and children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”
The Name of God, the infinite Creator of the Universe, from which the stars and heavens proclaim His glory, is the LORD, YHWH. There is no holier name under heaven, but second is Jesus (Iesous), and third is the Holy Spirit, a title more than a name, but holy all the same. These three are YHWH, “I Am.” He is our ever-present, ever-loving-faithful God. In the shelter of His Name I run to. In the power of His Name I speak. His Name is authority, wisdom, and knowledge. In His name is protection, refuge, and power. That’s what’s in His Name.
Lord God, my LORD, YHWH King of the Universe, before You I humbly bow and offer all that I am to the “I Am.” I owe my existence to You, my being and my purpose. There is nothing I have that was not Yours before, and nothing I will become that You have not already planned for. May my every day be sanctified before You. My every thought be conformed to Your will and purpose. Thank You LORD, for loving me, and saving me from my sins and the penalty that awaited me. I am forever in Your debt. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.