What's in a Name?

What's in a Name?


Robert Shaw, D.Min.



Excerpted with permission from Created for Significance: Discovering Who Defines Us and How We Obtain our Significance.



Names today, especially exotic names, have become very trendy.  Many of these names are given because of their meanings.  Exotic names also are given to gain the spotlight, often especially for the parents early on.  Then as the child grows, the spotlight shifts to the youngster.  Parents need to be mindful of what their children’s names may do for their children later in life.   A news report a couple of years ago indicated that a couple in New Jersey had named their son “Adolf Hitler,” as his first and middle name.  That poor child is most likely going to have difficulty throughout his school years and as he becomes an adult.  A rock music icon from the 1960’s and 1970’s named two of his children, “Moon Unit” and “Dweezel”.  Recently, I learned that a contemporary Hollywood actor named his child “Pilot Inspektor”.  Really, people?  Are we not considering our children enough?  If parents name their child a name with a different and difficult spelling, it may burden the child with having to always spell out their name for the rest of their life.  The overly creative name may also become more of a self-centered statement than what the child had bargained for.  Since names have such a powerful influence upon one’s identity, parents need to take care with a child’s life-long moniker.

Other cultures throughout the world also understand the importance of names.  Names that are given within an ethnic culture, may be different to the prevailing culture, but often have meanings within their native language.  For example, African names, Asian names, Hispanic names, and Slovak names often have meanings that are given to children to encourage a particular future destiny.


Parents often want to place a meaningful description of their child upon their life.  Other names are given because they are simply different from the rest, as if to say that their child will stand out because of their name.  I used to manage a Christian bookstore for many years, and we often sold books that listed various baby names from A to Z with their meanings.  Over the years Christian parents have become more mindful of how they name their children.  Some of today’s common names are, Joshua, Matthew, Jacob, Rachel, Rebecca, and Jonathan.  This was true in our nation during the 1700’s and 1800’s as many prominent men and women, including many of our forefathers, had Biblical names.  There was Benjamin Franklin; John Adams; Thomas Jefferson; Andrew Jackson, and of course Abraham Lincoln.

God reveals Himself many ways in Scripture.  He reveals Himself through creation (Psa. 19:-16; Rom. 1:20-12); through the prophets (Heb. 1:1); through the written Word (II Tim. 3:16; II Pet. 1:19-21); through His Son Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:2); and through His names.  There is one God, but the many significant names provide us with understanding as to who He is and His nature.  Some names are descriptions of God’s character while others are more descriptive of His titles.

The following are some names of God found in the Bible that will help us develop a glimpse of who God is:

  • El Elyon – “the most high God” (Psa. 57:2).


  • Elohim – “God the powerful” (II Chron. 20:6; Psa. 33:6-11). This name is also found in the early chapters of Genesis.  This Hebrew word is plural in its form, thereby indicating the Triune nature of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


  • I Am – speaks of His self-existing nature and His constant unwavering presence (Exo. 3:14; John 8:58). God has no beginning and no end.


  • El Roi – “God who sees (me)” (Psa. 34:15; Gen. 16:13-14; Psa. 139).


  • El Shaddai – “Almighty God” (Psa. 91:1). This name depicts God’s unlimited power and resources.


  • Adonai – “Master” or “our Lord and our God” (Psa. 86:12).


  • Jehovah – “The Lord (my God)” (Isa. 26:4; Exo. 34:5-7). This name actually depicts the personal nature of God, unlike the idols and other gods of the Old Testament and in history. It is used over 5,500 times.  Jehovah appears when relationship between God and people are involved.


  • Jehovah-Rohi – “The Lord our Shepherd” (Psa. 23; Isa. 40:11; John 10:11).


  • Jehovah-Shalom – “The Lord our Peace” (Isa. 9:6; Jud. 6:11-13, 24; Rom. 5:1).


  • Jehovah-Tsidkenu – “The Lord our Righteousness” (Jer. 23:6).


  • Jehovah-Ropheka (or Ropha) – “The Lord our Healer” (Exo. 15:26).


  • Jehovah-Jireh – “The Lord our Provider” (Gen. 22:14). The name Abraham gave God when He provided Abraham a ram to sacrifice.  It also means “the Lord will help you see”!


  • Jehovah-Nissi – “The Lord our Banner” or “our victory” (Exo. 17:15). The name Moses gave God because of the victory over the Amalekites.


  • Jehovah-Tsabaoth – “The Lord of Hosts” (I Sam. 1:3; Isa. 47:4). God is our leader in battle and spiritual warfare.  He is our authority.  He has the right to give commands.


  • Jehovah-Meqaddeshkem – “The Lord my Sanctifier” (Exo. 31:13). God is the God who cleanses and saves us.


Notice in the names of Jehovah that God is personally involved with our healing; our provision; our peace; etc.  God was not a distant God in the Old Testament, as many would believe, including the people of Israel.  God’s intention has always been to be in intimate fellowship with His people.  God’s intention was to not only be significant in the lives of people, but to impart His image, His significance, in our lives for the purpose of relationship with others.  The personal aspect of God was seen throughout the Old Testament through God’s names and culminated ultimately in Jesus Christ.  Jesus was also called “Emmanuel”, which means “God with us”.  God’s character is portrayed through all of His names and labels.

My prayer is that you open up your life to allow The Lord Jesus to be your significance.  You are indeed significant to Him.



Want to read more? Purchase Created for Significance here!


shaw_robertDr. Robert B. Shaw, Jr. is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor in both Virginia and North Carolina. He works at the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) in Forest, VA in professional development and as membership divisions director. Dr. Shaw is an adjunct professor at Liberty University and a Clinical Trainer for graduate counseling intensives. He is also an ordained minister, serving as an elder and executive pastor in churches for over 25 years. He has also been a middle school and high school teacher and athletic coach in both the public and private school environments. Dr. Shaw spent several years counseling military personnel and their families near FT. Bragg, NC and specializes in abuse and trauma related issues, addictions, depression, anxiety disorders, life adjustment issues, loss and grief, counseling church leaders and pastors, and adolescents and adults. Dr. Shaw has a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from Wagner College, New York where he attended on an athletic scholarship in track & field; a Master of Divinity Degree from Christian International Theological School, Florida; a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Liberty University, Virginia; and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Formational Counseling, from Ashland Theological Seminary, Ohio. Dr. Shaw is a National Board Certified Counselor (NBCC), and a Board Certified Professional and Pastoral Counselor (BCPPC). Dr. Shaw and his wife, Lorinda, a registered nurse, have been married since 1978, and have five children together and six grandchildren. He enjoys running, the beach, sports, music, traveling to historical sites, and spending time with family.