Day 146

His Name Has Power

Wisdom Psalm 68:1-6
New Testament John 16:5-17:5
Old Testament 1 Samuel 17:38-18:30

Introduction

Aged thirty-three, Barbara Clapham came to live in London. She decided she was going to look for a church. One Sunday morning, she arrived at HTB. The young woman who was welcoming people at the door smiled at her and asked her name. Because of that smile, Barbara came back the following week. When she walked in the next Sunday the same person said, ‘Hello Barbara.’

Because the person on the door remembered her name, she decided that she was going to come back every Sunday. That was in 1947. From then on Barbara came almost every Sunday until she died, soon after celebrating her 100th birthday. She made a huge impact on the life of HTB (including running the finances of the church for many years). I wonder whether the young woman on the door had any idea of the difference she made by remembering Barbara’s name.

There is great power in a name. Names are significant. This is true today, but it was even more so in the Hebrew culture we read about in the Bible. A Hebrew name is no mere label. The name of the Lord reveals who he is.

Wisdom

Psalm 68:1-6

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. A song.

1 May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
  may his foes flee before him.
2 May you blow them away like smoke—
  as wax melts before the fire,
  may the wicked perish before God.
3 But may the righteous be glad
  and rejoice before God;
  may they be happy and joyful.

4 Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
  extol him who rides on the clouds ;
  rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
  is God in his holy dwelling.
6 God sets the lonely in families,
  he leads out the prisoners with singing;
  but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

Commentary

Praise the name of the Lord

David urges: ‘sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds – his name is the Lord’ (v.4).

God reveals himself through his name. He gave his name to Moses (‘I AM WHO I AM’) when he came to liberate his people from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 3:14). Likewise, in this psalm we see that the God who bears this name has particular concern for the marginalised in society.

God is ‘a father to the fatherless’ and ‘a defender of widows’ (Psalm 68:5). ‘God sets the lonely in families’ (v.6a). ‘God makes homes for the homeless’ (v.6a, MSG). ‘He leads forth the prisoners with singing’ (v.6b).

One of the ways to honour the name of the Lord is to love and serve the marginalised: widows and orphans, the lonely, the homeless and those in prison.

Prayer

Lord, I praise your holy name. May your name be honoured in my life as I love and serve the marginalised in society.

New Testament

John 16:5-17:5

5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

The Disciples’ Grief Will Turn to Joy

16 Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”

17 At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”

19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”

31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus Prays to Be Glorified

17After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

Commentary

Power in the name of Jesus

Do you know how much power there is in the name of Jesus? As Jesus leaves his disciples, he says to them, ‘I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete… In that day you will ask in my name’ (16:23b–26a).

When we go to God in prayer we do not ask in our own names, but in the name of Jesus. On our own we have no right to ask anything. But Jesus, through the cross and resurrection, has made it possible for you to have access to God in his name.

Praying in Jesus’ name is about aligning yourself with Jesus. As you do this, your prayers harmonise with God’s desires for your life and you can pray that his will be done. You cannot do this on your own. You need the Holy Spirit.

Jesus tells the disciples that it is to their advantage that he is going away because, ‘Unless I go away the Counsellor [the ‘Friend’, MSG] will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you’ (v.7). Jesus could only be in one place at a time. Now, by his Spirit, he can be with you and me as our friend and helper all the time, everywhere we go.

The Holy Spirit will convince the world about guilt (supremely because ‘people do not believe in’ Jesus, v.9), and ‘he will guide [us] into all truth’ (v.13a). Every time we go off track or in the wrong direction, the Holy Spirit convicts us. We sense in our spirit that what we are doing is not right.

The Holy Spirit never condemns us (Romans 8:1). He convinces us to repent and then to go in the right direction. He guides, sustains and strengthens you and me to become more like Jesus.

He guides you into all truth. Truth is revealed by the Spirit of truth (John 16:13a). Among other things, he reveals the truth about you. The truth sets you free.

Jesus promises you three things:

1. Joy – in the midst of mourning and grief

‘I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy’ (v.20). Justice will prevail. Evil will not have the last word. When Jesus rose from the dead, the disciples’ joy was so great that it completely overshadowed their grief – like a mother who has given birth to a baby and forgets the anguish of the birth (vv.21–22).

2. Love – in the midst of hate

You are loved. Even when ‘the world hates you’ (15:18), Jesus says to you that ‘the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God’ (16:27). The Spirit of Truth will reveal the Father’s total love for you.

3. Peace – in the midst of trouble

Jesus never promised you a trouble free life. Indeed, he says that in the world you will experience ‘tribulation and trials and distress and frustration’ (v.33, AMP). But he promises you ‘perfect peace and confidence in the midst of these trials’ because he has ‘overcome the world (I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you)’ (v.33, AMP).

The most important gift that you receive from the Holy Spirit is a relationship with God. In this prayer Jesus highlights this as the true heart and definition of ‘eternal life’ – ‘this is eternal life that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent’ (17:3).

This amazing description of eternal life is surrounded by Jesus’ prayer that God’s name would be glorified. Everything Jesus did while he was here on earth, and our relationship with the Father through Jesus, are all ultimately to the glory of God’s name.

Prayer

Lord, I can never thank you enough for the immense privilege of being able to pray in the name of Jesus. Today I pray… in your name.

Old Testament

1 Samuel 17:38-18:30

38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals! ”

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron. 53 When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp.

54 David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem; he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent.

55 As Saul watched David going out to meet the Philistine, he said to Abner, commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is that young man?”

Abner replied, “As surely as you live, Your Majesty, I don’t know.”

56 The king said, “Find out whose son this young man is.”

57 As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head.

58 “Whose son are you, young man?” Saul asked him.

David said, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.”

Saul’s Growing Fear of David

18After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. 2 From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. 3 And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. 4 Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.

5 Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well.

6 When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. 7 As they danced, they sang:

 “Saul has slain his thousands,
  and David his tens of thousands.”

8 Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom? ” 9 And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.

10 The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully on Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand 11 and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.

12 Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had departed from Saul. 13 So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. 14 In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. 15 When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns.

17 Saul said to David, “Here is my older daughter Merab. I will give her to you in marriage; only serve me bravely and fight the battles of the Lord.” For Saul said to himself, “I will not raise a hand against him. Let the Philistines do that!”

18 But David said to Saul, “Who am I, and what is my family or my clan in Israel, that I should become the king’s son-in-law? ” 19 So when the time came for Merab, Saul’s daughter, to be given to David, she was given in marriage to Adriel of Meholah.

20 Now Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased. 21 “I will give her to him,” he thought, “so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” So Saul said to David, “Now you have a second opportunity to become my son-in-law.”

22 Then Saul ordered his attendants: “Speak to David privately and say, ‘Look, the king likes you, and his attendants all love you; now become his son-in-law.’”

23 They repeated these words to David. But David said, “Do you think it is a small matter to become the king’s son-in-law? I’m only a poor man and little known.”

24 When Saul’s servants told him what David had said, 25 Saul replied, “Say to David, ‘The king wants no other price for the bride than a hundred Philistine foreskins, to take revenge on his enemies.’” Saul’s plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Philistines.

26 When the attendants told David these things, he was pleased to become the king’s son-in-law. So before the allotted time elapsed, 27 David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.

28 When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, 29 Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days.

30 The Philistine commanders continued to go out to battle, and as often as they did, David met with more success than the rest of Saul’s officers, and his name became well known.

Commentary

Protection in the name of the Lord

David realised that the best protection was not Saul’s armour but the name of the Lord (17:45).

At first, David tried to face Goliath in Saul’s armour. Then he realised, ‘I cannot go in these… because I am not used to them’ (v.39). So he took the armour off. He decided to be himself. This is such a lesson in life. It is no good putting on someone else’s armour. It always looks artificial and unnatural when we try and present ourselves as if we are someone else.

There is great power in authenticity. Oscar Wilde said, ‘Be yourself; everyone else is already taken!’ You are at your most effective when you are being yourself. As St Catherine of Siena put it: ‘Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.’

David had a concern for God’s name and its vindication (v.45). He said to Goliath, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty’ (v.45). He realised the limitations of human efforts (v.47). He was confident in his God whose name alone is sufficient to strike the strongest person to the ground (v.46). He was prepared to trust in the name of the Lord in the face of enormous opposition.

You may face great opposition. The world you live in can seem enormously powerful and overwhelming. You may feel weak and pathetic in contrast. But go out in God’s name – realising your limitations and yet trusting in him to vindicate his name. Because the Lord was with David he was successful in everything he did (18:5,12,14).

David’s success provoked anger and jealousy from Saul (vv.8–9). As Joyce Meyer points out, ‘God always puts us around someone who is like sandpaper to smooth off our rough edges… a testing that takes place before we get promoted. If you want to lead you must first serve in circumstances that may not be ideal and learn to behave wisely. This prepares us to be greatly used by God.’

God gave David more success. Interestingly, because of his concern for God’s name, David’s ‘name became well known’ (v.30). But that was not his aim or intention, or the focus of his life.

Prayer

Lord, may the churches in this country be filled again with people worshipping the name of Jesus. I pray that everything we do may be focussed on seeing the name of Jesus lifted up and honoured again in our society.

Pippa adds

In 1 Samuel 18:1, we see David and Jonathan’s wonderful friendship. It says, they ‘became one in spirit’ – they were real soulmates. There is something so satisfying about deep friendships. It makes such a difference having the support of loving friends to stand with you in difficult times. And to laugh with you in the good times.

Friendships are something that will go on for ever. In heaven, there will be no time restrictions and none of the jealousy with which David had to contend.

Verse of the Day

John 16:27

‘The Father himself loves you…’.
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References

The One Year® is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers. Used by permission.

Joyce Meyer, The Everyday Life Bible (Faithwords, 2018) p.451.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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