Study the attributes of God with trusted Bible teacher Dr. David Jeremiah

The Names of God and Why They Matter

By David Jeremiah

Knowing God by His personal names is one of the greatest privileges for followers of Christ. The word God is found throughout the Bible, but the Lord reveals Himself more personally through the names with which He introduces Himself in Scripture. These names help us when we address Him in prayer. Just as we want to call people by the right term or name, so we want to address God with appropriate wisdom and reverence whenever we pray.

I’ve put together a survey of some of the amazing names that tell us in personal terms who our God is and what He is like.

These special names of God are an incredible blessing when you see them in the context of the Scripture. The ones I want to look at follow the same holy formula. They have Jehovah (or Yahweh) as the first part of the name, and then you’ll see a dash or hyphen, followed by the second part to the name. He is Jehovah-__________, and each of these remarkable Old Testament names tells us something wonderful about Him that enhances our worship.

Jehovah-Rohi: The Lord My Shepherd

Let’s start in Psalm 23, one of the most familiar passages in the Bible. The first words say, “The Lord [Jehovah] is my shepherd [Rohi].” In the Hebrew language, it reads Jehovah-Rohi—The Lord Is My Shepherd.

King David is the author of this poem, and if you know his story it isn’t hard to figure out why he coined this name for God. When we first meet David in 1 Samuel 16, he’s out in the fields watching the sheep. The prophet Samuel came, searching for the Lord’s choice for a future king. Jesse and his sons gathered to welcome Samuel, but none of the sons fit the bill. “Are all the young men here?” asked Samuel.

Jesse said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep” (verse 11).

Jesse summoned his youngest son; David returned home from the sheep fields to be anointed king of Israel, but he didn’t become king immediately. Fifteen years passed between his anointing and his coronation, and through those years, David spent his time with the sheep. On occasion, he saved his flock from predators like lions and bears (1 Samuel 17:34-36).

Later when David composed a poem to celebrate God, he thought to himself, “Just as I have been a shepherd to these sheep and have cared for them and watched out for them and protected them from danger, Jehovah has done all that for me! He is Jehovah-Rohi. The Lord is my Shepherd.” It’s wonderful to know the Twenty-Third Psalm, but how much better to know the Shepherd Himself! If He is your Shepherd, you will have everything you need, including goodness and mercy all—not some, but all—the days of your life.

Jehovah-Jireh: The Lord Shall Provide

The patriarch Abraham also created a hyphenated name for God, and it, too, means a lot to us. In Genesis 22 we have the dramatic account of God calling Abraham and instructing him to sacrifice his promised son as a burnt offering on Mount Moriah. None of us can imagine the trauma of hearing such a command, but for Abraham the burden was two-fold. Not only did he risk losing his son; he risked the integrity of the promise God had given him to make of his descendants a great nation.

Abraham’s obedience required an enormous extension of his faith. Hebrews 11:17-19 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.”

At this time, Isaac wasn’t a little boy. He was a young man, perhaps in his twenties. Yet he, too, must have exercised a remarkable amount of faith and obedience to trust both his earthly father and his Heavenly Father. He allowed himself to be bound and placed on the altar. Perhaps he closed his eyes as Abraham’s knife rose in the air above his throat. But at that moment God intervened, saying, “Abraham, Abraham.… Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Genesis 22:11-12).

The Bible says, “Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, ‘In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided’” (Genesis 22:13-14).

The Bible says, “Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, ‘In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided’” (Genesis 22:13-14).

In Hebrew, “The-Lord-Will-Provide” is Jehovah-Jireh. There’s a deep lesson in this name, for Isaac was a symbol of Christ, the only begotten Son whom the Father offered as a sacrifice for our sins on the mountains of Jerusalem, which is also known as Mount Moriah. But there’s also a lesson for us in our everyday needs. We are deeply needy people, and sometimes we need emotional support, or financial help, or physical aid, or provisions related to an emergency or crisis. In such times we can approach Jehovah-Jireh on the Throne of Grace. We can call Him that, for He is the God who provides.

Jehovah-Rapha: The Lord Who Heals

He is also Jehovah-Rapha, The Lord Who Heals. This title for God occurs in Exodus 15, which tells the story of the early days of the Israelites’ travels in the wilderness. In the previous chapter, the newly liberated nation had just escaped Pharaoh’s slavery, and they had marched wide-eyed through the walls of water towering above them in the Red Sea. In Exodus 15, they praised God for their supernatural deliverance. But they lost enthusiasm very quickly when they found themselves without drinkable water in the desert. They wandered around for three days without water, which is about as long as a person can survive without hydration. Then they found a pond, but the water was brackish and undrinkable. The first person to the pool took one drink and spewed it out of his mouth because the water was bitter.

The people of Israel began crying out to God and to Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” The Bible says, “So [Moses] cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, and said, ‘If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you’” (Exodus 15:25-26).
In the Hebrew text, the title “The Lord Who Heals You” is Jehovah-Rapha.

I believe God can grant physical healing to us when it is His will to do so. He can heal us supernaturally if He chooses, and He can use doctors and nurses and medicines in the process. But our ultimate healing is bound up with our glorified and resurrected bodies in heaven. The Bible says of Christ, “And by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Sooner or later, all of us will age and grow sick and feeble and pass away from the earth, barring our Lord’s swift return. But He is Jehovah-Rapha, and He has promised us age-less, sick-less, tear-less bodies that we’ll enjoy throughout eternity. Outwardly we are wasting away, but we fix our eyes on what is unseen and we trust the God who heals us.

Jehovah-Nissi: The Lord Is My Banner

Two chapters later in Exodus 17, we come across another name for God. As Moses led the children of Israel through the desert, they soon encountered another problem—fierce enemies. The Amalekites, the descendants of Esau, were none too happy when this group of freed slaves began tramping through their region. The Amalekites were warlike. They were gifted in fighting, and the Israelites had been imprisoned in Egypt for centuries and had no experience in warfare, nor did they have weapons. Suddenly they were at war with the Amalekites, and it was a national existential crisis. Moses, too old to fight, relied on his general, Joshua, and climbed a nearby mountain for a bird’s eye view of the battle.

The Bible says, “And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side” (Exodus 17:11-12).

Joshua won the battle, and as Moses interceded on the mountain, the Amalekites were defeated. Verse 15 says, “And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner.” In Hebrew, that is Jehovah-Nissi.

In ancient times, banners weren’t like the huge signs hanging in gymnasiums to commemorate championship seasons. The Hebrew term came from a word meaning “to glisten,” and it referred to the insignias suspended at the tops of poles, which were lifted up to identify the tribes and the people. On the mountaintop, Moses had lifted up the rod of God in victory. He looked down on the banners waving in the wind marking the twelve tribes of Israel. He thought to himself, “The Lord is my identity; the Lord is my victory; the Lord is my banner.”

Today we’re in a conflict with the world around us, the devil before us, and the flesh within us. But we belong to the Lord, and He is our victory. Whenever you’re facing your own battle with the Amalekites, as it were, you can visualize God’s banner above you—and that banner is God Himself, Jehovah-Nissi—“The-Lord-Is-My-Banner.”

Jehovah-M'Kaddesh: The Lord Who Sanctifies

Turning to the next book in the Old Testament, Leviticus, we find the next great name of God. Many people bypass the book of Leviticus, because it’s full of archaic rules and regulations related to the nation and the priesthood of Israel. It describes the ancient sacrifices and the Israeli religious festivals. But Leviticus is full of rich truth, and, as someone said, we don’t always get a lot out of reading the book, but we reap an enormous blessing by studying it.

The key to Leviticus is holiness, and as the chapters unfold it becomes clear God wants His people to do what is right and to do it in the right way. All of the sacrifices, regulations, and ceremonies in Leviticus are about serving a holy and righteous God. The key verse is Leviticus 11:44: “Be holy; for I am holy.” When we come to the twentieth chapter, it’s not surprising to see a new name for God that conveys this truth. Leviticus 20:7-8 says, “Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the Lord who sanctifies you.” The phrase is: Jehovah-M’Kaddesh. That means “the God who sanctifies,” the God who makes holy, the God who sets us apart for Himself and perfects that which concerns us.

Herbert Lockyer, in his book on the names of God, wrote, “Living as we do, in a world ruled by a satanic god and which is therefore characterized by dens of infamy, haunts of vice, shameless profligates, dishonest traders, callous murderers, senseless wars, appalling crime, and moral filth, it is hard to think of a nation having holiness as its dominant characteristic, yet this was God’s ideal.”

We cannot control whether society yields to the authority of Jehovah-M’Kaddesh or turns aside to its own lusts. But as for us, we can serve the Lord who makes us holy. Consider the power of coming to Him in your own prayer time and saying, “Dear Jehovah-M’Kaddesh, I need more holiness in my life. I need greater victory over temptation. I need strength over sin. I want to represent You more purely to a corrupt world. Please help me grow in my sanctification. You are my Jehovah-M’Kaddesh.”

Have you ever addressed God like that? You can. It’s one of His names.

Jehovah-Shalom: The Lord Who Is Peace

We find another name for God in an unexpected place, the book of Judges. Parts of Judges are sad to read, for they speak of tragic times. The nation of Israel cycled through spiritual revival and reversal, and during the reversals people acted in barbaric ways. But there are some encouraging pages in this book, and one of my favorite stories involves a man named Gideon.

By this time in Israel’s history, Joshua was dead, and the monarchy had not yet been established, so there was no king. The times were chaotic, and everyone did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6). Whenever the people sunk in despair, they would call on God, and He would raise up regional military leaders known as judges.

In Judges 6, the people of Israel were being terrorized by a tribe of nomadic warring people called the Midianites. All of Israel trembled in fear, for the Midianites would raid and rape and pillage and kill, almost at will. The whole nation of Israel—really a bunch of tribes without national unity—was constantly on edge.

One young Hebrew, Gideon, was hiding in a winepress trying to thresh out some grain for his family. The Lord appeared to him with remarkable words: “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” (verse 12)

I suppose Gideon wanted to say, “Who? Me?” But God saw who Gideon could become under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The Lord always knows who we can become when we’re under His authority.

When Gideon realized God was speaking to him, he was terrified. “Alas, O Lord God! For I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face.” But the Lord said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die” (verses 22-23).

Judges 6:24 says, “So Gideon built an altar there to the Lord, and called it The-Lord-Is-Peace.” The Hebrew phrase is Jehovah-Shalom.

Do you know the wonderful Hebrew word, shalom? It means peace. We can use that name in prayer whenever we’re afraid—Jehovah-Shalom. He is our peace, and the Bible tells us to “be anxious for nothing,” but in every situation by prayer and petitions with thanksgiving to present our requests to God. And, we’re promised, “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Jehovah-Tsidkenu: The Lord Who Is Righteous

We also come across one of God’s special names in the book of Jeremiah. This man, Jeremiah, endured much scorn and rejection. He preached in Jerusalem during the latter days of the Jewish monarchy, when each king was worse than the one who preceded him. The nation of Israel was in a death spiral. Jeremiah preached and prayed and wept and warned his people of their sin, but few listened to him.

Jeremiah would have collapsed under the discouragement without God, but the Lord was with him, reassuring him, helping him, saving him, and strengthening him. In Jeremiah 23, the Lord gave him this prophecy about the coming of the Messiah: “Behold, the days are coming… that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (verses 5-6).

That’s Jehovah-Tsidkenu.

What a powerful title, and what a timely word! Do you feel like giving up? We can often identify with Jeremiah, when it seems every year is worse than the one that preceded it, in terms of the moral decay of our land. You look at television, you read the paper, you hear the reports, and you wonder, “Is there anything good that hasn’t been corrupted?”

But God said, in effect, “Jeremiah, let me tell you something. There is coming a day when I will raise up a King to reign in total righteousness. His name will be Jehovah-Tsidkenu, The Lord Who Is Righteous.” I have to believe, though it is not recorded, that Jeremiah built an altar to God and said, “Thank you, God! Today things seem discouraging, but there is coming a day when the Messiah will reign. Today I’m celebrating Your promise of Jehovah-Tsidkenu—The Lord Our Righteousness.”

This Lord came, and He is coming again. In times like these, we must keep our eyes on Him and use His Name in prayer. His influence is greater than all the evil of all the ages, and we can rest in His righteous power.

Jehovah-Shammah: The Lord Who Is There

The Bible is packed with other names and titles for God, but for our purposes in this chapter, let’s look at just one more—Jehovah-Shammah, The Lord Who Is There. You’ll find it in very last verse of the book of Ezekiel.

And that city—the future Millennial capital of Jerusalem—would have a nickname. It would be known as Jehovah-Shammah—“The Lord Who Is There.”

When you pray, you can address your Heavenly Father as Jehovah-Shammah. Try it the next time you bow your head. He is there, near you, with you, ever present. Remember what we said earlier about God’s omnipresence. When you pray, your words don’t have to travel millions of miles into space to reach God. He is right there in the same room with you, as close as your own spirit, closer than a brother. He is your Jehovah-Shammah.

As we continue to read through Scripture, we are introduced to many more names of God. Here is a list of a few of them and where you can find them in the Bible, starting with a review of the names we just covered:

Jehovah (Isaiah 40:3)

Jehovah-Rohi: The Lord My Shepherd (Psalm 23:1)

Jehovah-Jireh: The Lord Shall Provide (Genesis 22:13-14)

Jehovah-Rapha: The Lord Who Heals (Exodus 15:22-26)

Jehovah-Nissi: The Lord Is My Banner (Exodus 17:15)

Jehovah-M’Kaddesh: The Lord Who Sanctifies (Leviticus 20:7-8)

Jehovah-Shalom: The Lord Who Is Peace (Judges 6:24)

Jehovah-Tsidkenu: The Lord Who Is Righteous (Jeremiah 23:5-6)

Jehovah-Shammah: The Lord Who Is There (Ezekiel 48:35)

Author of Salvation (Hebrews 2:10)

The God of Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac (Exodus 3:2, 6)

The Lord of Glory (1 Corinthians 2:8)

I AM (John 8:58)

The Almighty (Revelation 1:8)

The Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6)

The First and the Last (Revelation 1:17)

The Faithful Witness (Psalm 89:36-37)

The Image of the Invisible God (Colossians 1:15)

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6)

A Sacrifice (Ephesians 5:2)

A Ransom (Mark 10:45)

The Lord Who Heals You (Exodus 15:26)

Heir of All Things (Hebrews 1:1-4)

The Temple (Revelation 21:22)

A Sanctuary (Isaiah 8:14)

Intercessor (Hebrews 7:25)

Author and Finisher of Our Faith (Hebrews 12:2)

Advocate (1 John 2:1)

Surety of a Better Covenant (Hebrews 7:22)

Teacher (John 13:13)

The Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25)v

The Wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24)

Yahweh (Isaiah 26:4)

God (1 Timothy 2:5)

Son of God (John 1:34)

Beloved Son (Matthew 17:5)

Lord (John 20:28)

The Word (John 1:1)

Messiah (Daniel 9:25)

Alpha and Omega (Revelation 22:13)

Savior (Luke 2:11)

Redeemer (Job 19:25)

Light of the World (John 8:12)

Lamb of God (John 1:29)

Creator of All Things (Colossians 1:16)

Master (Luke 8:24)

Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5)

Bread of Life (John 6:48)

High Priest (Hebrews 3:1)

The Lamb (Revelation 7:9)

A Lamb Without Blemish and Without Spot (1 Peter 1:19)

Lamb Slain From the Foundation of the World (Revelation 13:8)

The Shepherd of The Sheep (Hebrews 13:20)

The Way (John 14:6)

The Good Shepherd (John 10:11)

The Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4)

The Rock (Psalm 18:2)

My Rock and My Fortress (Psalm 31:3)

The Rock of My Refuge (Psalm 94:22)

The Rock That Is Higher Than I (Psalm 61:2)

The Rock of My Salvation (2 Samuel 22:47)

My Rock and My Redeemer (Psalm 19:14, NIV)

The Builder (Hebrews 3:3)

The Foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11)

A Sure Foundation (Isaiah 28:16)

A Stone (Isaiah 28:16)

A Living Stone (1 Peter 2:4)

A Chief Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:6)

A Precious Stone (1 Peter 2:6)

A Stone Cut Without Hands (Daniel 2:34-35)

The Last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45)

God’s Firstborn (Psalm 89:27)

The Firstborn Among Many Brethren (Romans 8:29)

The Firstfruits of Them That Slept (1 Corinthians 15:20, KJV)

A Witness to The People (Isaiah 55:4)

The Amen (Revelation 3:14)

The Light (John 12:35)

The True Light (John 1:9)

The Light of Men (John 1:4)

He Is the Lamb Who Was Slain (Revelation 5:12)

He Is Faithful (Hebrews 3:2)

He Is Our Strong Tower (Proverbs 18:10)

He Is Our Foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11)

He Is Preeminent (Colossians 1:18)

He Is the Tree of Life (Revelation 2:7)

The Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16)

The Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2)

He Is Our Gift (2 Corinthians 9:15)

The Head Ephesians 4:15

The Head of the Body, the Church (Colossians 1:18)

A Life-Giving Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45)

The Head of All Principality and Power (Colossians 2:10)

 

  1. 1 Herbert Lockyer, All the Divine Names and Titles in the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975), 32.

For more on the names of God, check out Dr. Jeremiah's book The God You May Not Know and the fold out brochure Master, and Other Names of Jesus