Monday, April 1, 2013

known by my name

written by Larry Rodgers

Read Samuel chapter 1 and Revelation 21

So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked the Lord for him.”  I Samuel 1:20

In a quite unsystematic fashion, we went through the book of Exodus in Each Day in the Word. For the past week, we have taken some glimpses of the resurrection appearances of our Lord to Peter. We are now going through the book of First Samuel, one chapter each day, grabbing little insights from each one. And again, we will pair a New Testament chapter with the chapter we look at in Samuel.

If you have done much reading in the Scriptures, you know that names often are given because of their meaning. A couple of early examples are Adam and Eve. Adam is drawn from the Hebrew word adamah which means earth, or perhaps dust. The name Adam speaks of mortality. But the name Eve means life, or the gatherer of life. A man without a woman has no children to carry on his name or his memory. 

Hannah was beside herself with sadness because she could not have a child. When, in answer to her prayer, the Lord granted her a child she named him Samuel which is a combination of two Hebrew words, the first being shem (pronounced shame) and is translated name, and el which is translated God. Her explanation for the name was, “Because I asked the Lord for him." But shem means more than name. It means the absolutely essential quality of a person, the glory of a person. When the Lord promised to make David a great name, He was saying He would make the memory and the lineage of David glorious. So perhaps the meaning of Samuel could be understood as the name of God; or better, the glory of God.

I understand how important names are. Today I was in the middle of a good talk with a man when I called him by the wrong name. I saw his face drop. A few minutes later I remembered his name and I used it several times to let him know I knew his name, but the conversation had lost its relationship quality and thus its vibrancy.

If someone knows my name, I know I am important to them.

At camp with the kids, my name has been an easy one to remember. I am Mister Rodgers. Lots of kids come up to talk to Mister Rodgers, but rarely can I remember their names, to my great regret. When one of my sons was just starting to talk, he could remember every camper’s name so when I walked around camp, I kept him with me. “Who’s that kid there?” I would ask him. “That’s Jordan,” he would tell me. “Hey Jordon,” I’d call out. “Hey Jordan,” my son would call out. That camper would feel pretty good about himself to have both Mister Rodgers and his son calling his name.

I think of distraught Mary looking for the dead body of the Lord Jesus. She asks the gardener if he can help her in finding it. Then the Gardener speaks her name, “Mary.” Nobody knew her name like her Lord. And nobody could say her name like her Lord Jesus.

What a great blessing to know that we who are Believers, God knows us by our names. My prophetic speculation is that on that Last Day when we hear “the shout, the voice of the archangel and the trump of God,” the shout we hear will be our names. Each one who longs for His appearing will hear his name shouted out through the Cosmos calling us home to be with our Savior.

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