The Name

Names are interesting, they do multiple things and they happen to be very important things. For example, when there are three people in a room and if you are required to distinguish between them one very appropriate way to do this would be to learn their names. Here is Mike, Sally, and Jerry. Names distinguish image bearers of God from other image bearers of God.

Names also bring about definitions. Names mean certain things. For example, Jacob means deceiver and we know from Scripture that he deceived his brother Esau out of his birth right and blessing. Jesus means Yahweh saves, and of course, He does. My name, Jonah, means dove. In the context of the Prophet Jonah, he is God’s dove sent out over the waters to bring a new creation to Nineveh which ought to remind us of the dove recounted at the time of the flood with an olive branch (symbolizing peace) in its beak.

Names distinguish, names have meaning. This could also be drawn out, in some sense, to say that names define. This is not absolute, to be sure. There can certainly be truth telling Jacobs in the world, but the Scriptures show us that our names are quite lofty in applying meaning to our lives, in some sense.

Adam was permitted by God to exercise authority over the animals by naming them. Adam observed the big yellow cat with a large majestic mane surrounding its fearsome face and said, “Lion, Lord. This is definitely a lion.” The lion is a lion because it is a lion, and we all know that the lions are not tame because they are lions. The name lion carries with it a definition.

Now, God also has a name. A name He chose to give to His people to call Him, and that name is Yahweh, I Am who I Am (Exodus 3:13-14). Then Yahweh defines His name for us in Exodus 33:19, “And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Yahweh before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”

Yahweh is the gracious and compassionate one who gives grace and mercy to whomever He wills. This is what God’s Name means. So you can understand why Psalm 113 (and the Psalms in general) uses the Name Yahweh so frequently,

Praise Yahweh, praise, O servants of Yahweh, praise the name of Yahweh. Blessed be the Name of Yahweh from this time forth and forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting the Name of Yahweh is to be praised. Yahweh is above all nations; His glory is above the heavens. Who is like Yahweh our God, who is enthroned on high, who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of His people. He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children. Praise Yahweh!

Now look what is happening here. Praise is being given to the Name of Yahweh. Well, why? Because Yahweh is the God of mercy and grace. The God who dispenses His good will upon the people He loves. This Yahweh, because of His mercy, is to be praised forever, from the rising of the sun to the setting of the sun. He is above all nations and His glory is even higher than the heavens. God is beyond all our comprehension and yet Yahweh, the one who gives mercy, humbles Himself to behold the things in heaven and earth. He humbles Himself so low, in fact, that He became a servant unto death on the cross, for the sake of His Name and His mercy for His people.

The mercy of Yahweh raises the poor from the dust of the earth. He brings people out of the curse of creation brought about by Adam’s sin. Yahweh lifts the needy from the ash heap. He, by His grace, resurrects the dead from the ashes. He gives life where there was no life, He gives faith where the heart was dead. He cleanses the filthy and anoints them with oil. He makes rebels princes in His kingdom. He makes sinful scoundrels into royalty. He makes sons of Belial into sons of God. His compassion ushers forth upon the barren womb and gives life to the saddened woman filling her with joy and life. He does all this because He is God. He is who He is. He has compassion and mercy upon those He chooses, and for this the Name of God is to be praised.

Hallelujah! Praise Yahweh!

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