DOES your name have a particular meaning? In some parts of the world, it is the custom to give a child a name that is full of meaning. The name chosen may reflect the parents’ beliefs and values or their hopes and dreams for the child’s future.
The practice of giving names that are rich in meaning is not new. In Bible times, personal names were usually given because of the meaning they conveyed. Names could indicate a person’s expected role in life. For example, when Jehovah told David about the future role of his son Solomon, He said: “Solomon [from a root meaning “Peace”] is what his name will become, and peace and quietness I shall bestow upon Israel in his days.”—1 Chronicles 22:9.
Sometimes Jehovah gave a new name to a person who was to have a new role. The barren wife of Abraham received the name Sarah, meaning “Princess.” Why? Jehovah explained: “I will bless her and also give you a son from her; and I will bless her and she shall become nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” (Genesis 17:16) Clearly, understanding why Sarah received a new name would involve understanding her new role.
What about the most important of all names—Jehovah? What does it mean? When Moses asked God about His name, Jehovah replied: “I shall prove to be what I shall prove to be.” (Exodus 3:14) Rotherham’s translation renders it: “I Will Become whatsoever I please.” Jehovah’s name reveals that he is a God of innumerable roles. To use a simple illustration: A mother may need to fill many roles each day in caring for her children—as a nurse, a cook, a teacher—according to the need that arises. It is similar with Jehovah, though on a more elevated level. In order to accomplish his loving purpose for mankind, he can become whatever he pleases, filling whatever role is needed. Knowing Jehovah by name thus involves understanding and appreciating his many roles.
Sadly, the beauty of God’s personality is hidden from those who do not know him by name. By studying the Bible, however, you can appreciate Jehovah’s roles as a wise Counselor, a powerful Savior, and a generous Provider, to name just a few. The rich meaning of Jehovah’s name is, indeed, awe-inspiring.
Nevertheless, getting to know God by name is not always easy. The next article will show why.