What’s In A Name?

Elijah baseball


It’s the end of October, and the baseball season has reached its climax. The World Series for Major League Baseball is one of the more significant events in sports. Well, at least in North America. Which makes me wonder why they named it the WORLD series. Seems a bit overstated, since only two countries participate!

Putting a big name on something can make it seem more significant than it really is. I use a Galaxy phone, but I’m pretty sure that the Earth is the only planet in the galaxy that has such a smart phone. I’m also pretty sure that humans are the only creatures on earth that name things. After all, didn’t God expect that of us? When God made the animals, “He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name” (Gen 2:19).

It’s a great responsibility to name something. A new pet will bear it’s name for a long time, so we like to pick something that we can enjoy. When naming our pet dogs, I try to imagine how it sounds when searching the neighborhood calling its name at the top of my lungs.

How much greater a responsibility it is to name your children. Should you pick something popular? Something unique? Something that reflects your family’s heritage? Johnny Cash had a popular song called “A Boy Named Sue.” The son hated having a girl’s name, and his father finally admits that it was intended to make him tough in the absence of his father’s care.

Sometimes a child is given a name that raises expectations for their life. When we named our fourth child ‘Elijah’, we wanted a strong, biblical name. Like an oversized pair of shoes, it took time for him to grow into his name. For most of Elijah’s life, he hated his name. In the last months of his life, he wrote about how he had come to love his name. He felt the power of God’s hand on his life, and he began to notice many similarities to the great Prophet Elijah.

So, what’s in a name? Can we influence the direction of a person’s life by the name we give them? Maybe. Does the name itself have inherent power? Probably not. With one significant exception…

What if there really was a name that was larger than life? What if putting that name on someone would guarantee to bring blessing? What if that name offered protection and power? We would treat that name with great respect, and put the name on as many things as we could.

Here is one of the most amazing scriptures in the entire Bible:

The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”
So they will PUT MY NAME on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:23-27) (emphasis mine)

It’s really that simple. Putting the Lord’s name on someone ensures that God Himself will bless them.

Fast forward from Moses to Jesus. Jesus prayed for his disciples before going to the cross, and he asked that the Father protect them. Not by the power of God’s might. Not by the power that created the universe. Jesus prayed:

Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name” (John 17:11)


Please ‘like’ and ‘share’ this post as you find it helpful and inspiring. Thank you.

-Ken Buchanan

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