Naming – Sunday Devotional

Genesis 1:1, 3-5 (KJV)

Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be called Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.

And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her; yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.

Names have been very important in history, and still are in many cultures.  Names are also very important to God, because it ties in with the concept that life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21), and so when we speak someone’s name we are speaking the meaning of that name over them.  The Bible is filled with people who were named something specific because of the meaning – Eve (Gen 3:20), the twelve patriarchs of the Tribes of Israel (Gen 29:32-30:24, Gen 35:18), Solomon/Jedidiah (2 Sam 12:25), etc.

The story of Jabez supports this.  His name means “sorrow”, and his mother called him that because she was sorrowful at the time of his birth, though we have no idea why.  Despite his name, he asked God to defend him and bless him, and God did!  He had obviously received some grief in his life because of what he was named, but he did not want to be known for that, but rather wanted to be known for the hand God laid on his life. (1 Chronicles 4:9-10)

My parents chose my name out for the meaning – Rebekah Christine means “Devoted one and follower of Christ”.  Many times the name “Rebekah/Rebecca” is translated to mean a yoke or snare, but my mother pulled the name from an old book that gave positive and Godly meanings to traditional names, and so I’ve never thought of myself as a yoke or snare in a person’s life.

Abram meant “high father”, and Abraham means “father of multitudes”.  Can you see why God changed his name?

Sarai could have meant “contentious”, but no one knows for sure.  Sarah means “princess”.  I would have been very grateful for that name change!

I know I am not the only writer who names my characters by referencing the meaning of their names.  Sometimes it’s as simple as naming them after a descendent, or the color of their hair (many English names are actually based on that).  The meaning isn’t always obvious, but to me it is always there.

In my Gyti stories, one of the main characters is named Dina (pronounced THEE-na), which means ‘snow-child’, because she was born on a snowy mountain.  Considering her race lives in the desert, this is a very significant name.

So what does your name mean?  Does it have any parallel in your life, or none at all?

And simply because your parents named you one thing does not mean you’re bound by it, as with Jabez.  Rather, seek to be the person God has created you to be.