After asking a student from Korea who is studying here in America what his name is, he not only told me his name, but also told me what his name meant.
It reminded me of a fact lost in America — names carry meaning or "weight." This is particularly true in the Old Testament Scriptures.
"Name" in Hebrew
In Hebrew, name is שׁם (pronounced shame). While the etymology of this word is uncertain, some have sought to connect this word to the Hebrew word shema as a shortened form. But more likely is from an Arabic root meaning "'to mark or brand,' hence an external mark to distinguish one thing or person from another." (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, s.v. shem)
A person's given name was not merely an identifying mark or call sign (similar to how Americans understand a name), but a name gave meaning (with hoped expectation to fulfill the meaning) to the thing or person to which the name is ascribed.
The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament notes:
"Thus [shame] constitutes a reality that guarantees the bearer an existence however hard to define, that endures beyond death. A related theme is defense against the ultimate annihilation of the [shame]."
We rejoice that our names are not forgotten by God. Jesus speaks to His disciples after granting them power to cast out demons and says, "Nevertheless do not rejoice in this...but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10.20 cf. Rev.17.8)
Tetragrammaton — YHWH
The "shame Yhwh" (name of YHWH) identifies the LORD God and His being. Where His name is placed, there God is present.
Harris notes in his commentary:
"...it functions almost like an appearance of Yahweh (Ex.23.20; Isa 30.27). Cf. the tabernacling of the Name at various spots almost like a Christophany (Ex 20.24; Deut 12.5; II Sam 7.13). The name of God also signifies the whole self-disclosure of God in his holiness and truth (Ps.22.22)...it is our Lord's preparation for the full disclosure of the Trinity as well as the Incarnation of his Son to come." (Ibid.)
Baptized into God's Name
Christians are baptized in the name of God: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God places His name upon us in baptism.
In Revelation, we see the whole body of believers symbolized in the 144,000. St. John writes, "And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads." (Rev. 14.1).
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