The Meaning of a Name
August 14, 2002 • By Ed Wrather
Please, let not my lord regard this scoundrel Nabal. For as his name is, so is he: Nabal is his name, and folly is with him! - 1 Samuel 25:25.
And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested. - 1 Chronicles 4:10.
A mother has gone to court in Italy to stop her husband from naming their newborn son after a horse. While the mother was still in the hospital, the man registered his son as being Varenne Giampaolo. Varenne is the name of a horse but not just any horse because Varenne the horse is thought to be the greatest trotter in history. Giampaolo is the name of the horse’s jockey. When the mother found out that she could not change the name of her son to Christian, she went to court and the decision of the court is still pending.
A name can have a profound influence on a life much like the song Johnny Cash sang about a “Man Named Sue.” According to the song, the father couldn’t be there so he named his son Sue, so he would grow up to be tough. In the song, Sue grows up to be even tougher and meaner than his Dad because of that name. I’m not sure, which is worse being named after a famous horse or a famous horse having your name (As in Mr. Ed the talking horse from the old TV show, but I prefer the meaning of the Altar “Ed” from Joshua 22:34 in the KJV: “a witness...that the Lord is God.”).
The fact is that names do have a profound impact on the lives of people, and we should be careful what we name our children. Nabal whose name means fool grew up to fulfill the meaning of his name. He was a fool and almost drew the wrath of David down upon him and his household. Only the wisdom of Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saved them. But because Nabal was such a fool God struck Nabal and he died soon afterwards and Abigail became David’s wife. To be a fool is something that we should fear even today. To reject Jesus as our Savior would be to become the ultimate fool.
With Jabez, we see a different situation. Jabez knew his name meant pain, but he did not want to cause pain, and he prayed for God to help him. As a result, God overruled the meaning of the name and Jabez became not a source of pain but a source of blessing.
Whatever your name may be, whoever you are you do not have to be a fool. You do not have to be the cause of pain for others. Instead, you can be a blessing! Ask God to help you become a blessing to all you come into contact with through whatever means you communicate. May God indeed make you a blessing this day!