Originally published on April 20, 2020
What’s in a name?
“I will bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for Your constant love and truth. You have exalted Your name and Your promise above everything else. On the day I called, You answered me; You increased strength within me.” (Ps. 138:2-8)
We speak a lot about His “name”. We are taught early on to begin our prayers with “hallowed be Your name”, and end them with “in Jesus’ name”. Jesus taught that whoever welcomed “one child...in My name welcomes Me”, and that “where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them”. The scriptures are full of a variety of other promises in relation to His name; “do all in the name of the Lord”, “if you ask anything in My name, I will do it”; and Jesus even reveals things about the future use of His name (“many will come in My name”). A quick bible app search of “name” in just the New Testament reveals it’s used 171 times! The Old Testament emphasizes the preeminence of God’s name – stating that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”(Joel 2:32, see also Rom. 10:13). Obviously, there is something very important about the name of the Lord.
But what does all this mean? Is it just stating the word “Jesus” or “Yahweh” that carries this power?
When we think about someone – we associate who they are with their name. You and I are known by our names. Leaders have authority to make decisions – and often send ambassadors or representatives to act in the name of and on behalf of the one who sent them. Billy Graham is a name associated with preaching the gospel to millions; Mother Teresa is someone associated with a life of selfless service to the poor. We recognize and associate people – and their character – by their names.
David says the same thing in the verse above when he says, “I give thanks to Your name for Your constant love and truth”. The importance and significance of God’s name is best understood by His character, who He is and what He is like. David gives thanks to God’s name because of His “constant love and truth”. David recognizes that this is who God is. The Apostle John says this even more succinctly, “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16).
David goes on to elaborate even more clearly something of critical importance to God’s name: “You have exalted Your name (His character, His reputation) and Your promise above everything else.”
Wow! Did you catch that? God places His promise on equal importance as His character, “Your name”! You and I can completely trust in God’s constant love and truth because He faithfully keeps all His promises to us. And likewise, we can completely trust all His promises to us because that is who He is – it is His reputation (His name) that He exalts above all else!
David goes even further and declares with confidence “On the day I called, you answered me; You increased strength within Me.” David can make this bold declaration, not because of David’s character or holiness, but because He knows that God is who He claims to be – constantly good and truthful and loving; and because God will not allow His reputation to be tarnished by failure to keep His word.
What a solid foundation for our lives during trying times!