What Is God's Name?

SELF | Alli Patterson | 6 mins

If someone asked you who “God” was, would you call Him by a name? (And would it be a nice one?!)

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The first thing we usually find out about someone is their name. Someone’s name is our first association with who they are. Isn’t it crazy how often our names somehow characterize something about who we are? Or we begin to associate certain things with certain types of names. (‘Mildred’ is never going to sound like the life of the party, amIright?! Or if she is, people have said to her, “You don’t seem like a Mildred!”)

My full name is “Allison,” which means “Truthful One.” Anyone who knows me knows this fits well. I want honesty. I dig for truth and understanding. I don’t like the weirdness in a room when people aren’t telling the full truth about something. Coincidence? No way. There’s something about ‘Allison’ that connects to who I am. (My kids do the facepalm a lot because I’ll just say something direct or blunt, trying to cut through the BS to the nugget of truth).

If you have a kid, you probably thought very carefully about the name you gave them—a special meaning, a connection to the family, or a hope we have for who they’ll be. One of ours is Zoe Elaine, which means “Life (of the Spirit) and Light.” This is what we hope she will bring into the world. God’s names work the same way. They each mean something about his character, his being, his promises, his nature.

“God” is not really his name. The God we meet in the Bible has name__s__—yes, more than one. To really know God well means we begin to experience the truthfulness of all of these names and why He is known by each. None of us will ever experience God as all of who He is during our short lives here on earth. But He says the more we ask, seek, and want to know of Him, the more of Him we will know.

Below are some categories and specific names for God you find in the Bible. (And below that some places in the Bible to see Him with this name). I’m guessing one is going to jump out to you as the name tag you wish God would wear to (re-)introduce himself to you: a way you’d love to know God better.

Maybe it’s a way you’ve longed to know Him. Maybe you’ve never even thought about what it might mean that God says some of these things about Himself. Or maybe you read below and realize (like many of us) that you are sitting on disappointments about who you thought God was, but He hasn’t matched those unarticulated expectations. Whatever the case, I challenge you to find one of the names that God has used for Himself and to ask him right now to show you who He really is.

Today, I chose “God Almighty” because I am facing something I can’t do on my own, and I believe He’s leading me towards it. I need doors to open that I can’t open. I need opportunities that I cannot create. I need God Almighty to supply for me what I cannot do for myself.

Maybe you’re fighting a battle against harmful patterns that have held onto your family for generations, and you need to meet The Lord of Hosts.

Maybe you don’t know where you’re going to live next week or get your next meal, and you need to meet The Lord is My Shepherd.

Maybe your anxiety is off the charts this year, and the medicine isn’t helping as much as in the past, and you need to meet The Lord is Peace.

“God” is so much more than we will ever know.

ELOHIM: Meet the God who is majestic, strong, sovereign, unique: the real Creator. (1)

“God Almighty.” (El Shaddai): He stands above others and can supply your needs (2).
“The Most High God” (El Elyon): He is strong, above all, absolutely supreme (3).
“The Everlasting God” (El Olam): He is there, unchanging and inexhaustible (4).

ADONAI: Meet the Royal God who owns you. He is the Authority over you and the good Master who always provides (5).

YAHWEH (YHWH): Meet “The God Who Is.” He is THE God, independent, self-existent, relying on no one to give him anything. He becomes known when he chooses to reveal himself.

“The Lord will provide.” (Yahweh Jireh): HE IS provision for his people (6).
“The Lord is my Banner.” (Yahweh Nissi): HE IS your means of victory and fights for you (7).
“The Lord is Peace.” (Yahweh Shalom): HE IS your peace and rest (8).
“The Lord of Hosts.” (Yahweh Sabbaoth): HE IS the military commander of the armies of heaven (9).
“The Lord your Sanctifier.” (Yahweh Maccaddeshcem): HE IS who purifies you and sets you apart for His work (10).
“The Lord my Shepherd.” (YahwehRo’i): HE IS your daily care (11).
“The Lord our Righteousness.” (Yahweh Tsidkenu): HE IS your moral code and virtue (12).
“The Lord is there.” (Yahweh Shammah): HE IS the God of a future return in glory (13).
“The Lord, the God of Israel.” (Yahweh Elohim Israel): HE IS the God of Israel; the only real God (14).

FATHER: Meet the God who is a personal father through faith in Christ. The Father creates this approach to relationship through the Son, Jesus. He cares tenderly, providing for his family, disciplining and maturing his children. (15)

Whether today you need to meet God as a Dad who you can just talk with, or you need to acknowledge that God owns you and has some rights over you. He is always all of these things, ready to show you more of Himself today. It’s time to move from the general “theos” name (16) for God. As good as that is, there’s so much more of Him to discover.

Read about your name:

  1. Isa. 54:5; Jer. 32:27; Gen. 1:1; Isa. 45:18; Deut. 5:23; 8:15; Ps. 68:7.
  2. Gen. 17:1; 28:3; 35:11; Ex. 6:1; Ps. 91:1, 2.
  3. Gen. 14:19; Ps. 9:2; Dan. 7:18, 22, 25.
  4. Gen. 16:13.
  5. Gen. 18:2; 40:1; 1 Sam. 1:15; Ex. 21:1-6; Josh. 5:14
  6. Gen 22:14
  7. Exodus 17:15
  8. Judges 6:24
  9. 1 Sam. 1:3; 17:45
  10. Exodus 31:13
  11. Psalm 23:1
  12. Jer 23:6
  13. Ezek. 48:35
  14. Jud. 5:3.; Isa. 17:6
  15. Matt. 7:11; Jam. 1:17; Heb. 12:5-11; John 15:16; 16:23; Eph. 2:18; 3:15
  16. Matt. 23:9; Rom. 3:30; 9:5 1 Tim. 1:17; Acts 17:24; Heb.1:8; 3:4: John 1:1; 3:16; 17:3; 1 John 5:20; Tit. 2:13;

Written by

Alli Patterson

Writer, teacher, Buckeye fan. The-one-who-always-asks-"why." Despiser of small talk. Runner who's getting a little slower every year. Committed wife and mom of 4.

Published on Oct 16, 2020