In 2002, my husband and I were expecting our first child. We knew absolutely nothing about being parents, but we were so excited. And of course WE were going to do this right. Logically, good parenting starts with a good name. Our evening conversation would be interspersed with possible names for this new little one.
Should we pick one that reflected my husband’s Scottish heritage or should we pick a Biblical name. Maybe it could be both. Family members joined in the fun suggesting all kinds of ideas as well. This baby would be the first grandchild on both sides, so expectations were high…at least I felt like they were. I didn’t want to mess up this name.
So part of every great brainstorming session involved us bent over a computer scrolling through names and their meanings or flipping through a tattered copy of “Baby Names.” Names were discarded for having strange meanings like “dark warrior” or meanings that read more like a map “from the Oak Valley.” Slowly a list of “possible” names started to emerge.
It narrowed further when we found out it would be a boy! Finally, we chose the name “Ian.” It was derived from the name John (Biblical) and was Scottish in origin. But more importantly to me, it means, “God is gracious.” I had had a miscarriage prior to this pregnancy which was such a dark time of loss and questioning. So in this season of new life, this name captured so many things: dreams for our son, our deep appreciation for this blessing and a growing understanding of the character of God. This NAME carried meaning and expectation and that was why we chose it.
Many years later, I was introduced to Psalm 91. As I previously shared, it was a game changer for me. It was a pivot point that changed my life forever. As I read, I loved the protective imagery and strong language…abide, dwell, refuge, fortress, but my eyes mostly slid past the different names God. After all, most English translations don’t really make a distinction between the names. It is hard to tell if they mean the same thing or not…Most High, Almighty, Lord…God. You get the picture…they sound grand and big…and they are all names of God.
Anyway, at some point I was listening to teaching on Psalm 91 by Joseph Prince and he was specifically teaching about the names. What? The names? Dig out the Strongs Concordance…what is he talking about? Here is what I found. Read the first 2 verses with me:
Psalm 91:1-2 in NASB says:
1He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High (“Elyon”)
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. (“Shadday”)
2 I will say to the Lord(“Jehovah”), “My refuge and my fortress,
My God (“Elohim”), in whom I trust!”
Now, when I actually looked those up, here is what those words mean! (plus a bonus name we will look at in a future post that comes from verse 16)
|Name of God in Hebrew||Meaning from Strong’s Concordance|
|Most High = Elyon (5945)||Superlative God – surpassing all others – Supreme. Above all other powers and authority.|
|Almighty = Shaddai (7706)||All Powerful Omnipotent|
|Lord = Jehovah (3068)||Self Existent One – Eternal|
|Elohim (430)||the Supreme God (plural form)|
Yeshuwah (3444) (vs.16)
|salvation, health, deliverance, help, prosperity|
Strong’s Concordance numbers
If I read those verses again…they read differently with the meanings inserted.
Psalm 91: 1-2
1He who dwells in the shelter of the Supreme God who surpasses all others in power & authority
Will abide in the shadow of the All Powerful One
2 I will say to the Eternal Self-Existent One, “My refuge and my fortress,
My Supreme God, in whom I trust!”
The deck is stacked here in the first two verses. God is demonstrating by the use of His names that He is more powerful than anything or anyone else and He exists independently of the anything happening here in the world. The names chosen here demonstrate His strenghth, power and give us confidence that He is more than able to do what He claims in these verses.
What I realized for me though is this…All that is fine and good…He has some pretty great names. Did I believe Him? Did I actually trust that He was saying true things about Himself? None of the rest of the words or other verses really mattered if I didn’t. I thought I trusted Him….but as I considered….struggled through past hurts and disappointments, I knew in my heart that I did not.
I came to Jesus when I was 4 years old. I loved Him with all my 4 year old heart. But over the years, lots of teaching (some good, some not), disappointments, and self-doubt led to confusion. I came to realize through this time of confusion, that the foundation for my life was not ALL on the Word of God. I had built my life on the traditions of the church, the opinions of others, the teachings of man AND the Word of God. And the reality is, those things did not all line up. They were not the same. I could dress my family up in their Sunday best, take care of my family and parrot quality teachers, but at the end of the day, that was it. As I gradually came to the realization that I did not know what I believed, it all started to crumble.
I knew that I needed to rebuild my faith on the Word of God alone. I needed to learn who God is, who He says I am and what the Word of God says. Psalm 91 was my road map for rebuilding my faith. It starts with His names. I encourage you too look them up for yourself. Maybe pull out your Bible and pencil them in next to Psalm 91.
I use a Strong’s Concordance as well as other sources. A good online one is Blueletterbible.org. I invite you to look up these names and consider for yourself who God wants to be to you!