The Names of God

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The Bible tells us to “praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above heaven and earth” (Psalm 148:13).

I find it interesting that we are so often commanded to praise the name of God. Wouldn’t just reminding us to praise God be enough? It means exactly the same thing and has exactly the same result, but God, in inspiring the Bible, chose to phrase it this way more times than I was willing to count. If it happened just once or twice, especially in Psalms, I might just brush it off as poetic, but it happens repeatedly all through the Bible! Surely there has to be a reason.

Names in Bible times had huge significance. They were given based on meaning, and often God would change people’s names as a sign of a work He was doing in their lives. Look at Abraham (once Abram) and his wife Sarah (once Sarai). Their names reminded them of God’s promises to them. Look at Paul, originally Saul. His name marked his change from persecutor of the church to avid missionary for Christ.

The Bible also uses dozens of names for God. Unfortunately for us, these names were often translated into English just as “Lord” or “God”, so we miss a lot of the depth of God’s character described in the original Hebrew. As we study the names God revealed to us, though, we can learn so much about His character and His attributes, and they are unbelievably humbling.

Here are just a few examples:

El Shaddai : All Sufficient One, Lord God Almighty

God has no need for anything or anyone. He chose to make us and He chooses to let us in on what He is doing. He is the Lord God Almighty, with no end of power, and with a power that is unfathomable to us.

El Elyon : The Most High God

God is sovereign and holy. There is no one and nothing higher than Him. This name just rings with His majesty.

Jehovah-Raah : The Lord My Shepherd

Think about this name in the context of the first two names. The same God who is all powerful and above all else is our shepherd. The Bible says he knows us by name and knows even the number of hairs on our heads. He patiently leads us and guides us, despite our weaknesses and foolishness.

Jehovah Tsidenku : The Lord Our Righteousness

God is righteous, completely and wholly so. This reminds us of how totally trustworthy He is. This name also reminds me, though, that when we accept Jesus’s gift of salvation, His righteousness covers our sins. He becomes for us the righteousness that we never could attain on our own.

El Olam : The Everlasting God

God has existed before the beginning of time, and He will exist into all eternity. He has been in control forever and He will never change. How amazing our God is!

Elohim : Creator, Judge

This is the name used in Genesis 1:1 -“In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.” We worship the God who merely spoke, and the stars appeared, the Earth went into its orbit around the fiery Sun, and the galaxies were placed into their spirals. With just a word from Him, trees sprang to life and waters roared where before there had been only an absence of existence.
These names speak so highly of God’s power and majesty, and also of His deep love for us. How can a God like this love us? Somehow, He does.

Let us praise the Lord and thank Him for His many names.

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