From Praying the Names of God Week Six, Day Three
The name Yahweh (yah-WEH) occurs more than 6,800 times in the Old Testament. It appears in every book but Esther, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. As the sacred, personal name of Israel's God, it was eventually spoken aloud only by priests worshiping in the Jerusalem temple. After the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70, the name was not pronounced. Adonay was substituted for Yahweh whenever it appeared in the biblical text. Because of this, the correct pronunciation of this name was eventually lost. English editions of the Bible usually translate Adonay as "Lord" and Yahweh as "LORD." Yahweh is the name that is most closely linked to God's redeeming acts in the history of his chosen people. We know God because of what he has done. When you pray to Yahweh, remember that he is the same God who draws near to save you from the tyranny of sin just as he saved his people from tyrannical slavery in Egypt.
God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'"
God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD [Yahweh], the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation." (Exodus 3:14-15)
PRAYING THE NAME
Praise the LORD [Yahweh], O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD [Yahweh], O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The LORD [Yahweh] works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
The LORD [Yahweh] is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD [Yahweh] has compassion on those
who fear him. (Psalm 103:1-13)
Reflect On: Psalm 103
Praise God: Because his goodness never fails.
Offer Thanks: For God's continued forgiveness.
Confess: Any tendency to impute motives to God unworthy of his character.
Ask God: To break any false images of him that you may have developed.
My eight-year-old daughter is an artist. Her drawings of cats, horses, dinosaurs, dragons, lions, tigers, alligators, elephants, and assorted monsters look so real that it isn't hard imagining them jumping right off the page and rollicking around the house. She has an artist's eye for detail, which is one reason why her pictures look so real.
One night after I'd returned from a too-lengthy business trip, she threw her arms around me, exclaiming: "You have the best mommy face in the whole world! I like the way it looks. It goes great with your hair and the glasses work pretty well too!" It wasn't only her artist eyes noting all the details. Her picture of me was filtered through eyes of love.
I wish I could tell you that my daughter's assessment is always so flattering. Her perception changes dramatically whenever I press her to do something she'd really rather not, holding her to a higher standard than she has for herself. Maybe that's why most of us have difficulty realizing how much God loves us. We conclude he's angry or uncaring because he doesn't answer every prayer in the way we want. Like my eight-year-old, we lack the spiritual maturity to realize that God is acting like a loving father when he uses hardships to discipline us (Proverbs 3:12).
It's so easy to develop an image of God that is the opposite from the loving and compassionate God described in Psalm 103. One way to counter that tendency is to paint a picture in your mind of the God the psalmist describes, using these words to shape the image of him you hold in your heart:
- Delighting to bless you
- Working on behalf of the oppressed
- Slow to anger
Take time today to praise Yahweh, using these descriptive images as you bow down before him.
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Meet your spiritual ancestors as they really were: Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them.