God’s names, titles, and descriptors are windows into his character. As we learn his names and meditate on them, we will come to know him more intimately. We will begin to trust him more fully. And we will find our hearts drawn ever more passionately to do his will here on earth as it is in heaven. And so I invite you to undertake a journey with me to explore God by means of his names.
Why Study the Names and Titles of God?
Should we study the names, titles, metaphors, and descriptors of God so we can impress others with our God vocabulary? By no means. I believe there are three ways that a study of God’s names and titles can benefit us, all of them closely related:
- Our prayer life is enriched by having meditated on God’s names, titles, and metaphors. For example, as I’ve studied about God as my Shepherd, I find myself calling on God in prayer as my Shepherd, trusting him to supply my needs and to guide me.
- Our worship is enriched, as well. With a limited vocabulary of praise and a limited understanding of God we are reduced to a kind of hobbled, truncated praise. But as we begin to know more of God’s facets, we are able to praise him better. Several passages in the Psalms and Isaiah indicate a joy in naming the titles and metaphors of God before him.
- Our faith in and understanding of God is increased. As I study how God provides as a shepherd, I now am able to trust him more fully in this area of my life. Whereas I once had a lot of anxiety about making ends meet, now my trust in God as my Shepherd and Provider bring me confidence, assurance, and joy that was missing before.
- Most High God (‘El `Elyon). We discuss ‘El, the generic term for God and ‘Elohim, the plural name used for the Israelite’s God. In addition, we explore titles by which God’s exalted nature is revealed: Most High God, Father of Glory, High and Lofty One, King of Glory, and My Glory. And we examine Abraham’s encounter with Melchizedek in Genesis 14:17-24.
- God of Might (‘El Shaddai). We examine the names and metaphors of God that refer to his power and might, including military might as the LORD of Hosts/Armies (Yahweh Sabaoth). Also Mighty Warrior and the LORD our Banner (Yahweh nissi). Joshua 5:13-6:2
- Yahweh, I AM, the Eternal God (‘El `Olam). This is God’s unique, self-revealed name, sometimes called Jehovah or the tetragrammaton YHWH. We also examine the eternal nature of God as the Ancient of Days, Alpha and Omega, First and the Last, Everlasting God, I AM, and the One Who Inhabits Eternity. Exodus 3:1-18.
- God Our Creator. We examine God as our Creator, our Potter as we are clay in his hands, our Builder and Maker. Is 45:5-12 and Psalm 95:1-7.
- The Holy and Righteous One. He is God of Holiness, Justice, and Righteousness. He is known as Holy, Jealous, Righteous One, the Judge of All the Earth, the Awe/Fear of Jacob. We’ll also consider compound names: The LORD who Sanctifies You (Yahweh-M’Kaddesh) and the LORD our Righteousness (Yahweh-Tsidkenu). He is the Protector of widows and the fatherless The theme of God requiring ethical justice is strong in the Bible. Isaiah 6:1-8.
- God Our Lord and King. Here we examine God in his role as absolute sovereign, or Lord and King. We’ll consider such titles as King of Glory, God of gods, and Lord of lords. Psalm 24.
- God our Fortress and Protector. A number of metaphors refer to God’s protection for his people. He is our Shield, Fortress, Hiding Place, Keeper, Lifter of Our Head, Refuge, Rock, Shade, Shelter, and Stronghold. Psalm 91.
- The Lord Our Provider and Shepherd, the God who leads us and supplies our needs. We explore the LORD who provides (Yahewh-jireh), the LORD Our Shepherd (Yahweh-rohi), the God Who Sees (‘El-Roi), the LORD who provides (Yahewh-jireh), the LORD is our Healer (Yawheh-rapha), and and The LORD is Here (Yahweh-Shammah).. Psalm 23.
- Abba, Father. Jesus especially revealed God as our Heavenly Father, building on an Old Testament theme. We also consider God in relationships with his people as Husband, God of Israel, and God of our Fathers..
- The God of All Grace. While the Old Testament revealed the Merciful God, the God of Love and Peace, and the God of My Mercy, the New Testament’s special emphasis is on God’s love and mercy. Exodus 34:5-7.
- God Our Savior and Redeemer. We conclude with a strong theme of God who rescues his people from trouble — Deliverer, Redeemer, Savior, and Horn of Salvation. We’ll also consider The LORD is Peace (Yahweh-Shalom, the name of Gideon’s altar). Mark 10:35-45.