What’s in a Name?
Read Daniel 1:6-7
I may not know what it’s like to adjust to life in another country, but I do know what it’s like to move from a suburb of Philadelphia to a rural, one stoplight town in Western Pennsylvania.
At age 14, going from sunny pavement filled days to gloomy skies, meadows and horses for neighbors was like being a part of the cast of The Little House on the Prairie. It took an emotional toll on me for the years that followed. It was and still is a culture shock for me.
This is nothing like Daniel’s experience, but being a young man ripped from everything you’ve ever known and being made to adopt all new ways of life (including a name) seems unfathomable. I had experienced a culture shock moving 335 miles from my home, but Daniel’s move from Jerusalem to Babylon was approximately 900 miles. That was not the only hardship (considering they didn’t have transportation like we do), but it wasn’t on his own free will. Daniel and his friends were moving due to being taken captive, knowing on that arduous journey that a lot of things were going to change.
Take another look at verse 6:
Whose name means who is like God?
Whose name means Yahweh is gracious?
Whose name means helped by God?
Whose name means God is my judge?
Names in the Bible were given to establish authority over another, or to indicate a new beginning or new direction in a person's life. We see this happen with Abraham, Sarah, Saul, Barsabbas, Esau, Esther, and more. All of these name changes happened for a specific reason.
Read verse 7 and write down what Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah’s names were changed to and by whom they were changed.
It wasn’t as simple as getting a nickname and obviously, there was a deeper meaning behind it.
They were all changed from Hebrew names to Babylonian names with meanings like, protect the life of the king, command of the moon god, who is Aku, and slave of the god Nebo.
I want to pause here and have you write down what the meaning of your name is. After you do that, follow-up with writing down if there is any part of your name/name’s meaning that you are attached to and why.
There are many other reasons a name can mean something to us, but no matter the reason, when we walk through this life our name is part of our identity and is given to us on our behalf.
These verses are just the beginning for Daniel, but we can see how hard it must have been from the very beginning. Today, I hope you can take time to thank God for not just your name, but for where he has placed you at this very moment as you are reading this book. If you are fighting to be thankful due to a hardship, thank him anyways. Let’s practice.
What are you thankful to God for today?
Never fear, dear friends! You mean something to God and he calls you by your name, no matter what context it has been set in. God still knew Daniel even though the Babylonian King attempted to take that meaning away.