The Name of the Lord
The Name of the Lord
At the age of thirty-three, Barbara Clapham came to live in London. She decided she was going to look for a church. One Sunday morning, she arrived at HTB. The young woman who was welcoming people at the door smiled at her and asked her name. Because of that smile, Barbara came back the following week. When she walked in the next Sunday the same person said, ‘Hello Barbara.’
Because the person on the door remembered her name, she decided that she was going to come back every Sunday. That was in 1947. From then on Barbara came almost every Sunday until she died, soon after celebrating her 100th birthday. She made a huge impact on the life of HTB (including running the finances of the church for many years). I wonder whether the young woman on the door had any idea of the difference she made by remembering Barbara’s name.
There is great power in a name. Names are significant. This is true today, but it was even more so in the Hebrew culture we read about in the Bible. A Hebrew name is no mere label. The name of the Lord reveals who he is.
1. Praise the name of the LordPsalm 68:1-6
David urges: ‘sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds – his name is the Lord’ (v.4).
God reveals himself through his name. He gave his name to Moses (‘I AM WHO I AM’) when he came to liberate his people from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 3:14). Likewise, in this psalm we see that the God who bears this name has particular concern for the marginalised in society.
God is ‘a father to the fatherless’ and ‘a defender of widows’ (Psalm 68:5). ‘God sets the lonely in families’ (v.6a). ‘God makes homes for the homeless’ (v.6a, MSG). ‘He leads forth the prisoners with singing’ (v.6b).
One of the ways to honour the name of the Lord is to love and serve the marginalised: widows and orphans, the lonely, the homeless and those in prison.
Lord, I praise your holy name. May your name be honoured in my life as I love and serve the marginalised in society.
2. Power in the name of JesusJohn 16:5-17:5
Do you know how much power there is in the name of Jesus? As Jesus leaves his disciples, he says to them, ‘I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete… In that day you will ask in my name’ (16:23b–26a).
When we go to God in prayer we do not ask in our own names, but in the name of Jesus. On our own we have no right to ask anything. But Jesus, through the cross and resurrection, has made it possible for you to have access to God in his name.
Praying in Jesus’ name is about aligning yourself with Jesus. As you do this, your prayers harmonise with God’s desires for your life and you can pray that his will be done. You cannot do this on your own. You need the Holy Spirit.
Jesus tells the disciples that it is to their advantage that he is going away because, ‘Unless I go away the Counsellor [the ‘Friend’, MSG] will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you’ (v.7). Jesus could only be in one place at a time. Now, by his Spirit, he can be with you and me as our friend and helper all the time, everywhere we go.
The Holy Spirit will convince the world about guilt (supremely because ‘people do not believe in’ Jesus, v.9), and ‘he will guide [us] into all truth’ (v.13a). Every time we go off track or in the wrong direction, the Holy Spirit convicts us. We sense in our spirit that what we are doing is not right.
The Holy Spirit never condemns us (Romans 8:1). He convicts us to repent and then to go in the right direction. He guides, sustains and strengthens you to become more like Jesus.
He guides you into all truth. Truth is revealed by the Spirit of truth (John 16:13a). Among other things, he reveals the truth about you. The truth sets you free.
Jesus promises you three things:
- Joy – in the midst of mourning and grief
‘I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy’ (v.20). Justice will prevail. Evil will not have the last word. When Jesus rose from the dead, the disciples’ joy was so great that it completely overshadowed their grief – like a mother who has given birth to a baby and forgets the anguish of the birth (vv.21–22).
- Love – in the midst of hate
You are loved. Even when ‘the world hates you’ (15:18), Jesus says to you that ‘the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God’ (16:27). The Spirit of Truth will reveal the Father’s total love for you.
- Peace – in the midst of trouble
Jesus never promised you a trouble free life. Indeed, he says that in the world you will experience ‘tribulation and trials and distress and frustration’ (v.33, AMP). But he promises you ‘perfect peace and confidence in the midst of these trials’ because he has ‘overcome the world (I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you)’ (v.33, AMP).
The most important gift that you receive from the Holy Spirit is a relationship with God. In this prayer Jesus highlights this as the true heart and definition of ‘eternal life’ – ‘this is eternal life that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent’ (17:3).
This amazing description of eternal life is surrounded by Jesus’ prayer that God’s name would be glorified. Everything Jesus did while he was here on earth, and our relationship with the Father through Jesus, are all ultimately to the glory of God’s name.
Lord, I can never thank you enough for the immense privilege of being able to pray in the name of Jesus. Today I pray… in your name.
3. Protection in the name of the Lord1 Samuel 17:38-18:30
David realised that the best protection was not Saul’s armour but the name of the Lord (17:45).
At first, David tried to face Goliath in Saul’s armour. Then he realised, ‘I cannot go in these… because I am not used to them’ (v.39). So he took the armour off. He decided to be himself. This is such a lesson in life. It is no good putting on someone else’s armour. It always looks artificial and unnatural when we try and present ourselves as if we are someone else.
There is great power in authenticity. Oscar Wilde said, ‘Be yourself; everyone else is already taken!’ You are at your most effective when you are being yourself. As St Catherine of Siena put it: ‘Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.’
David had a concern for God’s name and its vindication (v.45). He said to Goliath, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty’ (v.45). He realised the limitations of human efforts (v.47). He was confident in his God whose name alone is sufficient to strike the strongest person to the ground (v.46). He was prepared to trust in the name of the Lord in the face of enormous opposition.
You may face great opposition. The world you live in can seem enormously powerful and overwhelming. You may feel weak and pathetic in contrast. But go out in God’s name – realising your limitations and yet trusting in him to vindicate his name. Because the Lord was with David he was successful in everything he did (18:5,12,14).
David’s success provoked anger and jealousy from Saul (vv.8–9). As Joyce Meyer points out, ‘God always puts us around someone who is like sandpaper to smooth off our rough edges… a testing that takes place before we get promoted. If you want to lead you must first serve in circumstances that may not be ideal and learn to behave wisely. This prepares us to be greatly used by God.’
God gave David more success. Interestingly, because of his concern for God’s name, David’s ‘name became well known’ (v.30). But that was not his aim or intention, or the focus of his life.
Lord, may the churches in this country be filled again with people worshipping the name of Jesus. I pray that everything we do may be focussed on seeing the name of Jesus lifted up and honoured again in our society.
1 Samuel 18:1
Friendships are wonderful. David and Jonathan ‘became one in spirit’ – real soulmates. There is something so satisfying about deep friendship. It makes such a difference having the support of loving friends to stand with you in difficult times. And to laugh with you in good times.
Friendships are something that will go on forever. In heaven there will be no time restrictions and none of the jealousy with which David had to contend.
Joyce Meyer, Everyday Life Bible, (Faithwords, 2013) p.451
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.