Names of God – ‘El



Hebrew: אֵל ‘el {ale}

Shortened from ‘ayil strength; as adjective mighty; especially the Almighty (but used also of any deity) (Lexiconcordance.com)

El occurs 237 times in the Old Testament. The word is used almost exclusively to refer to a deity, whether it is referring to the one true God

You are my God [El], and I will give thanks to you;
    you are my God; I will extol you. Psalm 118:28

or false deities.

There shall be no strange god [el] among you;
    you shall not bow down to a foreign god [el]. Psalm 81:9

It is used a few times to mean power and might

When he raises himself up the mighty [el] are afraid;
    at the crashing they are beside themselves. Job 41:25

The mountains were covered with its shade,
    the mighty [el] cedars with its branches. Psalm 80:10

or angelic beings,

For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord?
    Who among the heavenly beings [el] is like the Lord, Psalm 89:6

although in this last case some would argue that the idea of foreign gods is intended rather than angels.

In short el refers to strength and deity.


What can we learn from this that can help us in our worship? Here are a few thoughts that stand out to me:

  1. Almighty. God is powerful. The name el is derived from a word meaning strength. When we worship God we are worshiping the One who is mighty enough to meet any of our needs. Although strength alone does not necessarily mean one is worthy of worship (consider the playground bully), it is certainly one of the most important attributes for one who is going to rescue and protect. It is God’s power that makes it possible for Him to be our Savior and refuge in time of need. And for these reasons we should praise God for His power.

Into your hand I commit my spirit;
    you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God [El]. Psalm 31:5

  1. Unique. God is not just a god. He is the God. The one and only God over all. We are to have no other ‘gods’ before Him. In the ancient world there was a common belief in multiple gods and so we see God explaining that there is no other. But just because you do not believe in many gods does not mean that you have no other ‘god’ in your life. We so easily let other things take precedent in our lives. It is so easy to allow something or someone other than God to become our ‘god.’ Whatever dominates our time, money and decision making is probably our true ‘god.’ Who or what is your god?

For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord?
    Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord,

a God [El] greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones,
    and awesome above all who are around him? Psalm 89:6-7

by Jerry Wyrick, president of Worship Arts Conservatory


Posted in General Worship and tagged .