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What's in a Name? (Psalm 8)

What's in a Name? (Psalm 8)

Why do you have the name you do? Are you named after someone in your family? Were your parents trying to create a connection among you and your siblings by having all your names start or end with the same letter? Maybe you were named after a historical hero, a favorite athlete, or a beloved book character. Your parents could have chosen thousands of possible names but wanted the perfect name for you. Because there’s only one you, and nothing will identify you more than your name.

Have you ever looked at a most popular baby name list? As you can imagine, they’re different for each country. In 2022, Oliver and Charlotte were the favorite names in Australia for newborns. For Northern Ireland, James and Grace topped the list. The Netherlands had Noah and Emma. France had Gabriel and Jade. Jack and Emily were the winners in Ireland. What do you think the two most popular names for babies were in the United States in 2022? Stay tuned, and I’ll answer that question at the end of this devotion.

Even Joseph and Mary had to name their new baby. But they weren’t looking for a sentimental family name or a unique spelling trend. They were told by the angel Gabriel, “Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Because Jesus means “Jehovah salvation,” we say we are saved by his name (Acts 4:12). Besides his birth name, you can find over two hundred other names for Jesus in the Bible. These names reveal who Jesus is and what he did for us, sometimes called his person and work.

Did you know there is a connection between the names of Jesus and his work of creation? Psalm 8 celebrates his names as they relate to creation. “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” (v. 1). In other words, Oh Jehovah (our covenantal God of creation), our Adonai (Jesus, the ruler and authority over all creation), how excellent, strong, mighty, and powerful is thy name in all the created universe. As if celebrating the triune God’s name in verse 1 wasn’t enough, this first part of the verse is repeated at the close of this psalm in verse 9. The verses between are written from the viewpoint of sinful man as he stands in amazement at the beauty and magnitude of God’s creative power over things he designed, such as babies (v. 2), the moon and stars of the heavens (v. 3), the whole human race (v. 4), and animals of the field, air, and sea (vv. 7–8).

Jesus helps us know him better by sharing with us his different names. But what’s extra-special is that some of the names Jesus shows us are the exact same things he brought into existence by his work of creation! Let’s look at some verses that contain the names of Jesus in things we can find in nature.

“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Jesus is the food and drink that gives you life. You receive this food and drink when you go to church and hear the preaching and when you read your Bible.

“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). We are redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:19). This is your salvation!

“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys” (Song of Sol. 2:1). These are two colorful and radiant flowers common to Israel that point you to the beauty and glory of Jesus, the beloved of God.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman” (John 15:1). This is a beautiful illustration from nature that points to your union with Christ. You are a branch that is engrafted into the vine, Jesus, so that you receive all the nutrients needed for your spiritual existence.

Can you think of any other names for Jesus found in nature? Look around you and see what other names you can find. We can learn things about Jesus through the unique characteristics he gave each created being. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3).

So, what’s in a name? Sometimes a name choice is as simple as the current trend. Liam and Olivia were America’s two most popular baby names for 2022. But for Jesus, his names are so much more meaningful. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13).


Sing together Psalter 14:7
Thy mighty works and wondrous grace
Thy glory, Lord, proclaim.
O Lord, our Lord, in all the earth
How excellent Thy name.

You've just finished a sample chapter of Journey Through the Psalms, a thirty-day devotional for ages 9-13 by Mike Velthouse and Erinn Kuiper. Like what you read? You can order a copy of the book here or by clicking the image above. Plus, visit on Friday, June 28, 2024, to enter your name in a giveaway for 1 of 10 free copies!

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