THE SON OF JONATHAN

Today's devotion from 1 Chronicles 8.

What's in a name? According to William Shakespeare, not much. However, within the context of a theologically important genealogy, we might argue that names are kind of important. The importance of names is not just in their identification as an individual. Many commentators and scholars talk about the names in 1 Chronicles 8, especially those names found in verses 33 and 34. In reality, there are two names that seem to stand out: Eshbaal and Merib-baal.

What makes these names soooo...interesting...is an aspect known as a theophoric element. A theophoric element is a part of a name that is derived from or a reference to a god. In both of these names coming from the family of Saul, you can easily see the word, Baal. This is tricky though, because some scholars argue that the word, baal, was not initially ascribed to a deity, but was simply used as a generic term for master.

This potential reference to Baal among the genealogy of Saul makes many uncomfortable. This is why the names are tweaked in a few other books by other authors. What are we to take from this? What do these names reveal to us that is of import? Are you ready for deep and profound revelations? Shall we now endeavor to uncover and expose mysteries? The answer is.....nothing.

We can't say that Saul was worshipping Baal at the time he named Eshbaal. We know that David and Jonathan were incredibly close and that David essentially adopted Merib-baal (Mephibosheth) after his death. Which leads me to the point. Merib-baal was not defined by his name, but by his actions and the life he lived. He is not known as a follower of Baal, but as a loyal servant of David who persisted in faithfulness to his father's dearest friend even during the turmoil of an attempted coup.

You are not defined by the name your parents gave you, or your horoscope, or any other such thing. There is only one name that can define who you are, and that is the precious name that is above all names, Jesus. In Christ you are defined by His action. In Him you are defined as a son or daughter of God Almighty.

What's in a name? Everything if that name is Jesus!