Today I am going to start a new series on the biblical names of God. There are many books and websites about the names of God, so why do my own posts on the names of God? Here are three reasons:
- Maybe it is new to you. Just because I have studied something multiple times doesn’t mean that all of my readers have. I think this is an important enough topic to make sure you have encountered it.
- They are a powerful worship tool. I think the names of God are a great tool for private worship. I want you to have the chance to use them in your worship.
- I need the reminder. Sometimes these posts are as much a reminder to me of what I know and believe as they are a teaching tool for others. So even if no one reads these posts, the time is still well spent.
Let me introduce you to our first name: Adonai
From an unused root (meaning to rule); sovereign, that is, controller (human or divine):—lord, master, owner. (Lexiconcordance.com)
Adonai occurs 331 times in the Old Testament. The word is used both for God and for human rulers.
Give thanks to the Lord (Adonai) of lords (adonai),
for his steadfast love endures forever; Psalm 136:3
Adonai is the plural form of ‘adon. The plural form is usually used when referring to God. The plural is used as a form of emphasis. God is more than a ruler. He is “ruler” multiplied – thus the majestic plural form is used.
It was common in later practice not to speak God’s sacred covenant name, YHWH, so they would not mistakenly use it in vain. The Masorete scribes put the vowel marks for Adonai under the letters for YHWH as a reminder to say Adonai when they saw the word YHWH. This was mistaken by early translators to be the actual vowels for God’s name and led them to translate YHWH as Jehovah. So the word Jehovah is actually a mistaken combination of Adonai and YHWH.
What can we learn from all these details about a name used in the Old Testament for God? Here are two thoughts that stand out to me:
- Sovereignty. God is Lord over everything. There is no higher authority or power in all of creation. Although we are told to call Him “Father”, we should never forget that He is also the King. All things are His to command. This is much easier to say than to live. Do I obey God without question? Do I live as if His Word and His call are more important than anything else?
- Respect. Do I respect the name of God and Jesus enough to worry about how I use it? Do I fear using it in vain?
Take time now to talk to God about His rule in your life and your respect for His name.
by Jerry Wyrick, president of Worship Arts Conservatory