Names For God: Devotions From Time Of Grace

Day 1 of 8 • This day’s reading


What’s in a name? In mine, not much. The name itself, Mark, just refers to a pencil check in a box or a blemish on a surface or an identifying sign. I was named after a biblical character, but the name itself has no hidden meaning.

Not so in Hebrew--it seems as if every Hebrew name is designed to have a special message. Samuel, for instance, means “heard by God” and was given to her little boy by a grateful woman who feared she was permanently infertile. No surprise then that the proper name by which our God revealed himself to his Israelite believers would have a powerful meaning.

There is no English equivalent; the closest we can get is “The LORD.” The proper name, transliterated as "Jahveh" (i.e., "Jehovah"), or "Yahweh," is a verbal variation of the Hebrew verb "I AM."

The name emphasizes God’s eternal existence and his rock-steady purpose. He once explained that dual nature of that purpose to his champion Moses, letting him see the intensity of his glory from behind as he passed by: “He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished” (Exodus 34:6,7).

Does that sound like a paradox? It is. On Calvary the LORD both punished and forgave the world’s sin.