Most of us have several names or titles to which we respond. In my work, I am called "Dr. Hemphill." In most social settings, I am called "Ken." My wife calls me "Honey." My mother refers to me as "Son." Now that all three of my girls are out of the house, I love to pick up the phone and hear the words, "Hi, Dad, what are you doing?" And when any of my daughters says "Daddy," it still melts my heart.
Names are important. They are a means of self-revelation. They tell people something fundamental about us. What's more, the names people use to address us reveal something about the nature of their connection to us. When we meet someone, one of the first pieces of information we desire is that person's name. The disclosure of the name is the prelude for building a relationship.
Throughout the Old Testament, God reveals himself to his chosen people through various names or titles—both those that he gave to himself and those that his servants were inspired to ascribe to him or to the place where he appeared to them. These names served to identify and describe God, but they also exhorted God's people to holy living, gave them hope, reminded them of their heritage, and challenged them to continue their pilgrimage of faith.
The names of God are one way in which God speaks to us today. Studying them unlocks for us a fuller understanding of God's multifaceted character and offers us insight into his divine expectations. They are an invitation for us to know intimately and fully the God of creation and redemption.
All biblical names of God are built around two core names—"El," a general term for a god, and "Yahweh," a more personal and covenantal moniker. In the Scriptures, the name or title used for God depends on who's using ...1