Covid-19 Devotionals

Names and Nicknames

I have always been interested in ‘nicknames’ given to people. Angela spent time with us at one stage when Nathan was about three years old. It was during the time that Ang was pregnant with Rachel. Jenny would call me for supper like this: “Lovie, supper is ready”. And, should I not respond within a certain time frame, she would call again: “Lov, supper’s ready”.

Nathan could not pronounce the “L”. Once Jenny had called me, he would be the echo: “Wuvie, supper is ready” and “Wuv, supper’s ready”. The name has stuck and both Nathan and Luke call me Wuvie. When their parents talk to them about me, that use the same name. When Nathan was in a play school/preschool in Dubai shorty after this, there were two Nathan’s in the class. Our Nathan’s label was NaV. For me, that has stuck. Because Luke is the youngest of our four grandchildren, to us he is Lukie … even though he is the tallest grandson. Alan and Rosemary Gray have been given the names “Boompa and Granny Bubbles” by their grandchildren. When I was an apprentice, the elderly gentleman who took our overhauls to the Cleaners could never get my name right. It was Greenwood, Yellowwood or Stinkwood but never Kirkwood. We have friends who have been married for about 30 years. Their nickname or name of endearment for each other is “Piesang” (Banana).

Mostly, nicknames reflect a sense of endearment and love. Our African brothers and sisters normally give their children names that have very practical meanings. An expression I have always loved is when Afrikaans people pray saying: “Liewe Jesus”. In translation, this could be something like “Loving Jesus”. We would normally pray: “Dear Jesus”. Their way has far more depth, feeling and meaning. Mostly, names and nicknames carry meaning. Generally, there is a reason parents name a child in a certain way. Biblical people were named and once God saved them, He often changed their names. Take Abram as an example. It means “exalted father”. God changed Abram to Abraham, meaning “father of many”.

Gen 17:5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.

The name carried the purpose of his life’s mission. Then consider the name Jacob. God changed his name to Israel after his conversion. Jacob means “one who follows on another’s heels, or supplanter”. Supplanter means “someone who wrongfully takes the place of another; deceiver”. Jacob demanded a blessing from the one he wrestled with … and we read:

Ge 32:28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”

Israel means “one that struggled with the divine angel” (Josephus), “one who has prevailed with God” (Rashi), “a man seeing God” (Whiston), “he will rule as God” (Strong). As Israel, he would take the covenant God made with Abraham, passed down to Isaac and then him to be the father of the nation named after him.

Consider this interaction:

Jer 16:19 O LORD, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in time of distress, to you the nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, “Our fathers possessed nothing but false gods, worthless idols that did them no good. 20 Do men make their own gods? Yes, but they are not gods!”

Notice God’s name … it is LORD and is always spelt with capital letters. Now the LORD speaks:

Jer 16:21 “Therefore I will teach them—this time I will teach them my power and might. Then they will know that my name is the LORD.”

This name comes from the Hebrew Bible’s “YHWH” (known as the Tetragrammaton). Once vowels were added, we get the name YAHWEH. Translated into Greek it is Jehovah and into English it is LORD. There are many other names for God in the Bible such as …

  • EL SHADDAI – My Supplier
  • ADONAI – My Master
  • JEHOVAH JIREH – My Provider
  • JEHOVAH ROPHE – My Healer
  • JEHOVAH NISSI – My Banner
  • JEHOVAH MAKADESH – My Sanctifier
  • JEHOVAH TSIDKENU – My Righteousness
  • JEHOVAH ROHI – My Shepherd
  • JEHOVAH SHAMMAH – My Abiding Presence

There are other names, but these would be the more important ones. You will see that in each case there is a meaning to the name revealing an aspect of the character of God. Those who went before us would use a certain name for God according to their need at that moment. Let’s say the individual was in great need financially or materially, they would pray using Jehovah Jireh, meaning ‘my provider’. Their focus would be one of dependence upon God who alone could meet their specific need at that time. In the mind of the believer, the specific name of God used gave comfort in that this God could and would meet him or her at my point of need.

But, there is another name that is full of meaning, comfort and confidence. It is beautifully explained in this song:

(Verse 1) There is a name I love to hear,

I love to sing its worth;

It sounds like music in mine ear,

The sweetest name on earth.

(Chorus) Oh, how I love Jesus,

Oh, how I love Jesus,

Oh, how I love Jesus,

Because He first loved me!

(Verse 2) It tells me of a Savior’s love,

Who died to set me free;

It tells me of His precious blood,

The sinner’s perfect plea.

(Verse 3) It tells me what my Father hath,

In store for every day,

And though I tread a darksome path,

Yields sunshine all the way.

(Verse 4) It tells of One whose loving heart,

Can feel my deepest woe,

Who in each sorrow bears a part,

That none can bear below.

In John 17 we read:

Jn 17:11 … “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me.”

When did the Father give the Son this name?

Mat 1:21 “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Dear God, I know that I cannot separate Your name from Your being. I do love You LORD Jesus. Please help me to make much of Your name. Thank You that I might hold Your name firmly in my heart, mind and sight, drawing comfort and protection from You. Oh, how I love Jesus, Because He first loved me! Amen.

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