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“Master of Breakthroughs”—such was the name David coined for God after He had swept through the massed Philistine armies as if the sluice gates of a mighty dam suddenly had been opened. We find this name in 2 Samuel 5:20, but nowhere else in Scripture.

But if this name is unique in the Bible, the practice of praising God via a newly created name is not. In fact, David was engaging in a fairly common act of piety—coining a name for God in order to express gratitude for an act on His part. We see this again and again, particularly in the Old Testament. Sometimes the grateful worshiper simply uses the newly minted name in his or her private prayers and praises. At other times, the name is attached to a place or to an object (such as an altar) in order to memorialize a particular act of God.

Consider these examples:

“You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees” (Gen. 16:13)—Abraham had heeded the suggestion of his wife, Sarah, and conceived a child by Sarah’s maid, Hagar. But the pregnant Hagar looked down on the barren Sarah. Enraged, Sarah drove Hagar away from Abraham’s tents and into the desert. But the Angel of the Lord found her there and commanded her to return, assuring her she would have many descendants. Overwhelmed that God had found her and revealed His plans for her son to her, she praised God with a name designed to magnify His omniscience.

“The-Lord-Will-Provide” (Gen. 22:14)—God later tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Just before the faithful Abraham was about to follow through, God sent an angel to stay his hand. Abraham then saw a ram, which he offered to God instead. He coined the familiar name Yahweh Jireh to laud God’s provision for his needs.

“The-Lord-Is-My-Banner” (Ex. 17:15)—The people of Israel, traveling toward Mount Sinai after the Exodus from Egypt, were attacked by the Amalekites. Joshua led the Israelites in their first battle and defeated the enemy. Then Moses built an altar and gave it this name, which praises God as Israel’s rallying point, its sure means of victory.

Perhaps we might benefit from emulating these Old Testament brothers and sisters, What mighty acts has God done for you? Is He “The God Who Saves Me,” “God My Deliverer,” or “The God Who Forgives My Sins”? As we seek to honor and worship God, let us praise Him by naming Him.

The Almighty One

Previous Issue

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From the August 2003 Issue
Aug 2003 Issue