What's In A Name?

July 22, 2019
by Gail Lundquist

John 10:3b – He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (NIV)

A newborn baby's first possession is his name. Parents normally put much time and consideration into the name that they give their child. It is a person's name that identifies and sets him apart from all the other people in the world. "Hey, you!" or "Would the tall, blond-haired lady please come here?" would soon become very tedious and confusing. Names serve a crucial purpose!

I've long been fascinated by the wide variety of patterns and structures of names all over the world. Scandinavian children are sometimes named for their father, with resulting surnames such as Jonsson or Jonsdottir. Some Spanish surnames, such as Garcia-Marquez, give honour to the two family lines that united to create the new individual. English names, such as Baker or Carpenter, may have once indicated the person's occupation. Some cultures first give their newborn child a derogatory name such as Mudface in order to repel the evil spirits. If the child survives babyhood, he is then given a permanent — and more appealing — name!

Family members are often honoured by names passed on to children. I am the namesake of my two grandmothers. Rhoda Abigail and Osie Lou morphed into Gail Lou. (Thanks, Mom and Dad, for the shortened version!) Family lines are continued through names such as James Jr., or even Henry Talbot IV. Living up to and honouring the family name can be a difficult challenge, while dishonouring the family name is shameful.

The name game doesn't stop with humans, of course. Adam got a piece of the action when God allowed him to name the animals. (How did he do that? Was he orderly and systematic in his procedure — or did he bring in a touch of whimsy now and then?)

Psalm 147:4 – [God] determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. (NIV)

What this verse tells us would be staggering even to scientists who can't begin to count all the stars, much less to identify them by name as God does.

Those who acknowledge Jesus as Saviour have their names entered in the Lamb's Book of Life.

Revelation 21:27 – Nothing impure will ever enter [the Holy City], nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. (NIV)

God knows each of His precious children by name. A beloved children's hymn says:

    I am Jesus' little lamb,
    Ever glad at heart, I am;
    For my Shepherd gently guides me,
    Knows my need and well provides me.
    Loves me every day the same,
    Even calls me by my name.
           – Henrietta L. von Hayn, 1724-1782

If our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life, one day our Creator will call us home — calling us by our name. What a welcome and wonderful summons that will be — well worth looking forward to!

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, we are so grateful that You know us by name and that You speak to us personally. May we respond gladly and obediently when You speak. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

About the author:

Gail Lundquist <gail10833@gmail.com>
Portland, Oregon, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you.


    Comforting news, Gail. Thanks for sharing.


    Thank you, Gail. I’m glad my name is written in the Book!


    Gail, Thank you for the inspiring devotional on “A Name”. Blessings.


    Gail, such an informative devotional! Thank you for sharing.
    Blessings.


    Hi Gail,
    I liked your devotional. It was very interesting and had a great spiritual message. Thanks!


    O how enjoyable and encouraging your message is in this devotional! I love the diligence too, with which you hunted down all these lovely, ‘name’ scriptures. But counting the stars, I think, is the biggie! So happy we are together in this wonderful opportunity to write our faith.


    I am also thankful my parents had considered calling me Augustine being born in August but instead chose the name of my Great Grandmother. I also got her Bible those older people must had extremely good eyesight the print is amazingly small.
    Enjoyed your devotional. Yes, our aboriginal people call their children by what they are good at like fleet foot etc. I think today they pick also a more traditional name.
    (ON)


    Hi Gail,
    Very good devotional about our names written in the book of the lamb. I also enjoyed the explanation of how some of the names started, some of them of course are easy to figure out.
    I would like to tell you how our name started. Back in the early 1500s there was a lad of about 12 (In the Netherlands) who inherited a considerable piece of land from his parents. When it was to be registered in his name he either did not have a name he went by, or he did not know it, so the clerk wrote what he thought and it has been for all these 500 years or so.
    Thank you for writing.


    Thank you, Gail. I’m glad my name is written in the Book!


    My mother’s name was Marjorie. My middle name, became Margery, which my mother, a writer artist, used as her pen name. Drove my teachers crazy as they thought I was spelling it wrong.
    But oddly enough I was the one in the family who also became a writer artist…although in a very different form than my mother.
    Makes you think.


    What a beautiful devotion!
    Thanks.

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