To read the previous studies in this series, please go to the following pages:
The Lord is our Teacher. Let’s continue learning from His Word.
What’s in a name?
A selfish man who lives for himself and lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God is a man who is called “fool” by God, although the world calls him “a great man”:
“And the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail; and the woman was of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance; but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was a Calebite.” (1 Samuel 25:3)
The name of this man was “fool”… Actually, “Nabal” means “foolish”, “wicked”, “impious”… His name means both foolish and wicked, as indeed the wicked man is the one who doesn’t really believe in God and thus he is a fool: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They have corrupted themselves, they have done abominable works: there is none that doeth good.” (Psalm 14:1) This man was a foolish man, because he was a wicked man who didn’t really believe God existed, and he thought his life was under his control, and he lived his life for himself and not to the Glory of God. Although people called him “a great man”, but God said he was “churlish and evil in his doings”… The world thinks that a man who does good at his work and who takes care of his family (materially) is a good man, good in his doings… but God sees the reality of the heart.
Now, one would wonder why the parents of Nabal called him with this name… Aren’t you surprised that there are parents who may boast of having their child called “wicked and foolish”? And yet many today call their children with such names!! Indeed, in the Bible names have a meaning, and people were called by names according to some experiences or expectations. The following example illustrates this fact:
“And she conceived again, and bore a daughter. And he said unto him, Call her name Lo-ruhamah; for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel, so that I should pardon them.” (Hosea 1:6)
“Lo-ruhamah” means “not having obtained mercy”. This girl bore in her name the declaration of God that He has rejected the unfaithful Israel. And many years later, we hear the following good news:
“But the angel said to him, Fear not, Zacharias, because thy supplication has been heard, and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.” (Luke 1:13)
“John” means “the grace or mercy of the Lord”. John the Baptist was called by that name by the angel who appeared to Zacharias, and indeed he had come to prepare the way before the Grace of God, Jesus Christ, who would establish the Covenant of Grace and Mercy for all sinners.
The parents of Nabal may have called him by this name because they wanted him to be a man of worldly strong character, not fearing God. They may have had their own wrong understanding of the “fear of the Lord”. Thus they have called their child “impious”, which also means “foolish” as we have seen. Whatever is the reason that those parents had for calling their child with this strange name, we see that the Lord used this fact to show us in His Word how our choices concerning our children have a big influence on their character, unless they repent and are born again. For instance, some people think it’s not a problem if they call their child with the name of a false god of an ancient mythology… they may have called him with that name just because it sounds beautiful, without even knowing what it means. But in all cases, this shows a heart separated from God and from His Will, and this will have some serious consequences on the child’s way of thinking. When you build the character of your child on ungodly principles, then that’s another example of calling him “foolish”. We have seen that a name means the character that we expect in a child. Now, maybe you want your child to be “open-minded” towards worldly principles, and you make him participate in worldly practices: you make him watch worldly movies that directly or indirectly preach to him worldly ungodly principles, you teach him to use people for his own advantage, you advise him not to be influenced by those “godly old-fashioned fundamentalist believers”, you make him believe that Christmas is about “Santa” and gifts and parties, and that the Passover (called Easter) is about eggs and eating and drinking, etc. (in brief, all worldly principles); and maybe you justify all that by saying: “I want what is good for my children, and I don’t want them to build their life on old-fashioned principles”… Whatever are the reasons that you give, the fact does not change: you refuse God as the Leader of your life and of the life of your family, and you build the character of your children on worldly and ungodly principles; and this will have some serious consequences, as your child will be foolish like Nabal… and he will be “churlish and evil in his doings”, as God says, even though he may become a “great man” in the eyes of the world…
Notice also that Nabal was a Calebite. Among the twelve spies whom Moses sent to spy out the land of Canaan, Caleb was one of the only two spies who trusted in the Lord and encouraged the people to obey God (cf. Numbers 13 and 14). So Nabal came from the family of this godly man called Caleb. He may have been boasting of being a member of the family of one of the only two men among the generation that came out of Egypt who could enter the promised land (cf. Numbers 32:11-12)… But is it enough to be from the family of a godly man? Is it enough to be from a family that had many servants of God in the past? Does it mean anything in relation to godliness to be from a “respectful” Christian denomination? Is it of any value to be a member of a local church that follows the Word of God and is theologically orthodox?… All these facts do not impress God, as it is clearly revealed in the example of Nabal. Nabal inherited the name of this godly man called Caleb, but he didn’t inherit the faithfulness of that man. And as we have seen in 1 Samuel 25:2, Nabal was living in Maon, near Hebron which was given to Caleb (cf. Joshua 14:14). And you may be living in Jerusalem! But all these facts do not mean anything concerning godliness: Nabal was an ungodly man coming from the family of a godly man… So don’t trust on the fact that you come from the family of a godly man or that you belong to an orthodox local church; you need to be born of God, or else you are like Nabal…
The Word of God is so rich! It contains very precious hidden treasures that only a heart that thirsts for God’s righteousness may find. As you can see, even one verse contains so many deep truths that many people consider as unimportant details (like the detail “and he was a Calebite”…)
We continue our study next time, if the Lord wills.
Grace be with you!
Disciple of Jesus Christ