I always wanted a nickname. Something cool. Sporty. But, alas, I could never come up with anything and neither could my friends. I hated "Mitch" and "Zitface" was just plain mean. Oh, I just remembered that for one long summer I earned the moniker, "Crash." Don't ask. Some years later, while in college I had an accident–a fall from a cliff–and became paralyzed. After rehab I returned to campus and noticed that many of my friends treated me with kid gloves, trying too hard to draw attention away from the fact that I was in a wheelchair. I called a few of them together one day and asked them to treat me as they would treat each other. I'm still the same guy I was before the accident, I reasoned. Poke fun at me, I pleaded. Call me names, I entreated.
Boy did they ever!
I recall that my parents visited me one weekend shortly thereafter and as we were making our way down the sidewalk of main street, one of my buddies shouted from the other side of the street, "Hey crip!" My poor precious mother could have fainted right there on the spot! I explained to them that I had encouraged my friends to feel at ease with me and they seemed to understand. I think.
It seems to me that many of the Bible names were actually nicknames that described the character of the bearer. "Jacob" meant "trickster". Jerubbaal, whose name means "defender of baal" grew up to be one of Israel's great champions and thereby dubbed "Gideon" graphically defined as "destroyer". David was "dear" or "beloved" and Peter ("rock") started out life as "Simon" which pictures a reed bent by breezes and shaken by the wind.
In my family's tree, there is a "Morning Dove" that married one of my great-great-great (ad nauseum) grandfathers back in the mid-nineteenth century. I have long been interested in the story behind that, but to date I have drawn a blank. Although the story behind that name is a mystery, there are some names you and I share in our common ancestry that will thrill your soul. If you were to go further back into our ancestry, you'd find some well-known and little-known names from the Bible that might be even more interesting than you ever knew! The names, put together, tell a glorious story.
You know Adam, of course. His name means "Man". Sums it up pretty well, dontcha think? Then comes Cain and Abel. Well, Abel was murdered and Cain is a wash. But next in line comes "Seth" whose name means "Appointed". Then Enosh ("mortal"). Following in line comes Kenan ("sorrow") and Mahalalel ("the blessed God"). Still with me? Okay, who's next? Oh yes: Jared, meaning "shall come down." Even though the previous names don't ring a bell, you likely remember the next guy: Enoch. His name means "Teach" or "teaching". The line is rounded out by Methuselah, Lamech and Noah ("his death shall bring", "the despairing" and "rest", respectively).
Some of you caught it, didn't you? Others are left scratching their proverbial heads thinking "how is this relevant to my life? What a waste of time! I think I'll 'adios' this blog and look elsewhere…" Well then, let me try it this way and see if you can solve the puzzle:
- Mahalalel–The blessed God
- Jared–Shall come down
- Methuselah–His death shall bring
- Lamech–The despairing
Still need a hint? Okay. The names, put together, tell the story of stories. Let's write it out: "Man [was] appointed mortal sorrow but the Blessed God shall come down teaching and His death shall bring the despairing [His] Rest." The story of stories, to be sure. And that's not all…
Isn't it wonderful that he put YOUR name in His story?