Names are meaningful and special. Names can be very visionary, in that they seem to characterize a specific quality or goal of an individual’s life. For example, I know a couple who named their daughter Mercy, and she grew up to become a most compassionate nurse and caregiver.
God has a thing for names!
In scripture God uses His name(s) to convey meaning and to help us understand Him. Knowing the names of God provides a deeper knowledge of Him, an intimate connection. In John 10:3, 14, Jesus clarifies His deep personal relationship with His sheep (followers) through His use of their names.
“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. … I know my sheep and my sheep know me—“John 10:3, 14
Names establish connection. Knowing God by name brings about trust in His character and thus a deeper intimacy with God. The names used of God and by God for Himself, reveal His character and ways of interacting with and on behalf of us. The more we know God, the deeper our intimacy with Him will become. In Psalm 9:10, the Psalmist declares that knowing God’s name(s) leads to trust in God.
“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
In Psalm 91:14, we see a similar connection with one of God’s names. We see this connection that the believer holds fast to God because he knows God’s name, and God responds protection and deliverance,
“Because he holds fast to Me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows My name.“ Ps. 91:14 (ESV)
God’s nature and character is represented in His names and titles. Some of these names include: Champion, Refuge, Savior, Deliverer, Rock, Fortress, High Tower, King of Glory, the Most High God, God Almighty, the Lord of Hosts, and so on.
Addressing God Intimately
The language used in the Psalms provides a window into the intimacy that can exist between God and man. What are some of the ways psalmists addressed and referred to God?
God, the One Enthroned on High
In Psalm 113:5-8, we see God’s name expanded to indicate His superlatively high, majestic position above man.
“Who is like the LORD our God, the One enthroned on high? He humbles Himself to behold the heavens and the earth. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the dump
to seat them with nobles, with the princes of His people.”
We get a deeper understanding of God when we understand His position as “the One enthroned on high,” meaning God is Sovereign Lord overall. This God who is Sovereign and Most High God bends humbly towards us who are poor and lowly. He bends down and brings us up.
Psalm 18:35 provides a clear and accurate picture of this when the psalmist says:
- “You have given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand upholds me, and Your humility exalts me.” HCSB
- “Then You give me the shield of Your salvation. Your right hand sustains me, and You stoop down to lift me up.” Ps. 18:35 EHV
God did this for you and me. I am a sinner and of lowly heritage, but I have been lifted up out of my sin and brought near to God, through the sacrifice of Jesus, and He has made me a priest unto Him and a member of His royal family.
- “…remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.´ Ephesians 2:12-13
- “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, to proclaim the virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9.
God, the One Enthroned on High gives us a place in His presence, an identity and a purpose!
God, the Righteous Judge
In Psalm 7 and Psalm 50, God is referred to as the Righteous God, the Righteous Judge and the God of Justice.
- “Put an end to the evil of the wicked, but establish the righteous, O Righteous God who searches hearts and minds…. God is a righteous judge and a God who feels indignation each day.” Psalm 7:9, 11 BSB
- “And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for he is a God of justice.” Psalm 50:6
No Warm Fuzzies
The terms judge and justice do not make me feel all warm and fuzzy, in fact I feel insecure at the mention of such terms. Yet, if I understand the truth in the name of God as the “Righteous Judge,” I can have a deeper feeling of trust and appreciation for God.
Justice and Security?
The reason for this trust and thanksgiving is Jesus. God worked out His righteous judgement in Jesus. Romans 8:4 states that God met the just requirement of His law in Jesus. I broke God’s law, many times through my sin. In the court of God, I am guilty and deserve the consequence of that guilt which is death, separation from God.
Yet God arranged for the penalty due me to be paid in Jesus through Him being the sin offering for me. God arranged payment of the penalty through the shedding of Jesus’ blood. Jesus then offered his blood as the atonement for my sins which canceled the debt and the penalty standing against me.
“For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man, as an offering for sin. He thus condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous standard of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:3-4 BSB (See Romans 3:25-26)
God fulfilled requirement of His law in the sacrifice of His Son. Justice has been served, but not to me, but rather to the Son of God for me. So, I can come before the Righteous Judge with confidence and love because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.
- “When you were dead in your trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our trespasses, having canceled the debt ascribed to us in the decrees that stood against us. He took it away, nailing it to the cross!” Col. 2:13-14
- “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2 Cor. 5:21
Know God’s Names to Develop Intimacy
I (we) can develop a greater sense of intimacy with God when we know the names and titles by which God is called. These names open up my mind to understand who God is and what He has done for me, while at the same time helping me see who I am before God. When I see myself in deep need of God, Who He is, and what He has done for me, then I am more real with Him and move deeper into Him.
As you read and study the Bible, look for God’s names. What do they tell you about Who He is and how He interacts with you?