Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My Lord, Whose Name Is Wisdom

In many traditions, a name was (and is) considered powerful and significant, part of a person's vital essence. Some societies even had the custom of giving two names to everyone: an everyday name used by society at large, and a "real" name known only to the person's closest loved ones. Anyone who learned someone's "real" name gained power over the person.

Superstition and magic aside, throughout most of history parents chose their children's names for more than the beauty of the sound. A name could represent a father's hopes for his son, something significant that had happened shortly before or after the birth, or something about the child's physical appearance. The Bible reports many incidents of children being named (and of adults having their names changed) to suit various circumstances (see, for example, Gen. 32:27-28, 29:32; 1 Sam. 1:20; Hos. 1:6; Rev. 2:17). We still see vestiges of this when children are named after relatives or saints, and in baby name books that list original meanings for each choice.

The Bible also frequently refers to God's attributes in terms of His name. His name is holy (Is. 57:15). His name is mighty (Jer. 10:6). His name is to be feared (Mal. 1:14). The New Testament describes believers as doing things in Jesus's name (e. g., Acts 3:6, 9:27) and even refers to Christ as the Name (Acts 5:41).

Do we appreciate the real significance of praying "in Jesus's Name"?

My Lord, Whose Name is Wisdom,
Whose judgment never errs--
May wisdom guide my choices,
Your knowledge steer my prayers.

My Lord, Whose Name is Wonder,
Who brought the world to be--
May wonder rule my vision;
Lord, give me eyes to see!

My Lord, Whose Name is Justice,
Who always stands for right--
May justice rule my thinking,
My words reflect Your light.

My Lord, Whose Name is Mercy,
Who weeps for wandering feet--
May mercy guide my actions,
Your grace touch all I meet.

My Lord, Whose Name is Service,
Who wipes feet clean of sands--
May service lead my doings,
Your heart empower my hands.

My Lord, Whose Name is Holy,
So pure and free from sin--
May I as well prove holy,
For You this world to win.

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