Spiritual Rumination by Julia Phillips

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name (has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness—trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never).

“He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

“With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.”

Psalm 91:14-16

 

God wants you to know you are not alone. Not ever. Satan wants you to believe you are on your own, and that no one understands how you feel. That is merely one lie from the father of lies. It is difficult to fathom the speed and velocity of the changes occurring in our land today causing those whose foundations are built on shaky ground to believe the lie. But to those who know God and His Name, it presents more opportunities to draw near, lean upon, and trust Your Lord completely and without wavering.

In the four decades I have personally walked with the Lord I have found that Psalm 91 is my go-to psalm in times when I am feeling squeezed. In just the first two verses we learn four different names for God, each unveiling amazing characteristics of His nature — or name.

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2.

The first name of the four here is the name “Most High.” It is the Hebrew name Elyon, defined as “the strongest of the strong; surpassing all others; Supreme above all other powers and authority.” Repeat after me: “I live under the protection of the Most High God.”

The second is the name “Almighty.” It is the Hebrew name Shaddai, which is defined as: “All powerful; Omnipotent; able to do all He has promised, Awesome God.” Can you repeat after me: “I dwell in the shadow of Almighty God.”

The third name for our God in just these two verses is “Lord.” This is Hebrew for Yahweh or Jehovah — meaning “I Am who I Am; I will be who I will be.” 

In the New Testament the Lord Himself appeared among His people as Emmanuel, “God with us.” Jesus actually applied the Greek in this verse by using: “YHWH”. 

Will you repeat this after me? “The Lord is my refuge and my fortress.” Sometimes when I am in a trial or battle I picture myself at the feet of Jesus. He is an ever-present help in time of need.

The fourth name used here is “God.” It is Hebrew for Elohim defined as: “Elohim is God; the Maker of the universe; Creator of all life; greatest in power and strength.” Will you repeat this after me? “I trust in the God Who created all things.”

What does God provide us in these turbulent times through the knowledge of His Name? Psalm 91:1-2 lists His loving attributes and promises I am sure you covet as much as I. He is our shelter and our secret place. Our protection, our covering, our refuge from storms or danger, our shadow of protection, hiding us when we need to be invisible. Our shield. His faithfulness is a shield to us in times of need or danger. There is no God like our God.

A name is so important. In our modern culture most people do not grasp the significance of a name. If you look up the meaning of the word in Hebrew, you will discover its significance. “One’s rank; authority, interests, pleasure, deeds, the manifestation of a person’s character as distinguishing him from others; a person’s name as inseparable from their nature and who they are in deeds, reputation, and cause.” A name is so much more than what is on your birth certificate or license.

In ancient times a person often received a new name after achieving a new status. The bestowal of a new name usually included an increase in rank in some area of society, even a larger inheritance in a family. It would affect future generations as well. There are countless examples in the Bible of God changing individual’s names. 

When God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, it marked a new beginning in his life. The name Abram means “father,” which reflected his status as head of his household. But when Abram entered into a covenant with God, God changed his name to Abraham, meaning “a father of many nations.” His new name reflected his God-ordained status with God as well as his future calling as “father of the faithful.” God also changed Abraham’s wife Sarai’s name, which means “quarrelsome,” to Sarah, meaning “princess.” These new names reflected what God was doing in and through them. It marked the end of one chapter or season in their lives and the start of a new beginning.

Another powerful example is found in the life of Jacob. The name Jacob means “supplanter or trickster.” But after Jacob’s encounter with God at Peniel, Jacob’s name was changed to “Israel,” meaning “one who is triumphant with God or one who prevails with God.” It signified a moment of absolute surrender in Jacob’s life after wrestling with the Angel until he was blessed. The new name did not change Jacob, but it marked the moment when one chapter permanently closed, and a new chapter opened that changed the history of mankind.

We can even see instances of new names bestowed in the New Testament. There was Simon, whose name was changed to Peter after he had a revelation of Jesus Christ. Simon was given the new name Peter, which comes from the Greek word “petra,” meaning “rock.” Peter’s life was transformed forever, and his new name reflected who and what he would be to the church then and forevermore.

Most people probably recall the incredible name change of the Apostle Paul the most. Prior to being knocked off his horse and blinded by the light of Jesus, Saul of Tarsus was an arrogant man who enjoyed chasing down and murdering Christians for the army. However, God had different plans for Paul, as He does for each of us, and Saul’s named was changed to Paul, meaning “small, humble.” A far cry from the obstinate, narcistic nature prior!

Each of these new names marked new beginnings and profound changes of character in the lives of those who were willing to receive them. Likewise, we experienced a transformational shift when we surrendered to the calling and Lordship of Jesus Christ. It made me stop and think. Jesus dramatically changed each of our lives when we chose to walk with our Savior as Lord of lords. 

It makes me wonder, what would my new name be? 

I can attest to the fact I am truly a new creation. I am sure none of you would even recognize me had you met me before I was saved. Pause and think about your own life. If God gave you a new name to reflect your new nature, character, or calling — what do you suppose it might be? If someone were to ask one of your friends or co-workers to describe you or your character in just one or two words, what do you think the answer would be? 

Your name—your character, nature, traits—is so vital when it relates to your testimony. How can we, the Church, witness to those outside the fold, promising a new life along with all the promises of God if we walk around murmuring, complaining, arguing, demanding our own way, angry, or appearing as if our walk with Christ causes a perpetual headache? 

Our “name” in the Biblical sense will reflect our defining traits and our ministry, giftings, and genuineness of love for one another. Pause and calmly ruminate on what your name might be. It has never mattered more than it does today — when identities and history and even gender are being wiped out figuratively and literally. The plumbline must remain. 

We are the only Bible some may ever read. When they see and get to know you, what they read might be a life and death matter. If the name you are displaying does not match up with the deepest desires of your heart, perhaps it is time for some radical rearranging. Possibly even a jolt off your horse. I know I am ruminating on mine.

Ruminate on that.