And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”  Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.”  And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.”  The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.”  Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. 2 Samuel 9:1-5

Names. What does yours mean? Why was it given to you? In our Bible character series this summer we will find names were very significant in ancient times, both for people and places. They could reflect a personality trait/virtue, a circumstance, or form a pun or create irony. Some examples: Barnabas, son of encouragement, Isaac (laughter, Sarah his mom laughed at the idea of becoming pregnant), Joseph naming his firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” And naming the second son, Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction”, Genesis 41:51-52. Also, name changes were very significant: Abram to Abraham, Jacob the deceiver renamed Israel, and Saul the persecutor became Paul the church planter. Mentions of a name reflect the Creator God and his story in people’s lives.

Mephibosheth’s name is long, filled with meaning, and so is the story of his life. The meanings of names are in parentheses as you read. As a result of a revolution, Mephibosheth (dispeller of shame) was taken as a child from Jerusalem to live in Lo Debar (a desolate, forgotten place). It turns out his name was prophetic because when David (beloved one) became King he kept his promise to Jonathan (the Lord has given) and showed kindness to Jonathan’s descendants. He went from the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel (my kinsman is God) in a barren place back to the palace in the city of Jerusalem (foundation of peace), from where he came. He received unmerited grace. He went from obscurity to prominence, from being discarded to purposefulness. His story could be any of ours. The Father God‘s heart is for all to have a story of receiving his mercy, leaving the fallen place, and being adopted as his children, a story going from helpless shame to righteousness and honor.

God has a plan, a journey, and a story for each of us. Do some research on your name. What characteristics of God does your name embody? How does it relate with the journey God has you on? Someday Jesus will give you a new name: To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it (Revelation 2:17). What do you think it will be? How will this new name reflect your relationship with Jesus?

By Donna Burns