For the sake of your name, O LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
My namesake is the apostle Paul. There are others with that name in my family line, but my mother made sure when I was very young that I would know exactly whom I was named after. No doubt, there are also many others named after this well-known Christian leader.
Some people are named after other heroes of faith. Peter, Deborah, and Esther are on the long list of such special names. But at the top of the list is a name that is often overlooked, yet it is the most important of all. If that name is not there, nothing else matters.
Those who have put their trust in the one who has bought them with the blood of Christ are named after the LORD of all. That may surprise us for his name is special. His name is holy. His name represents everything he is and everything he has done. It dare not be misused.
He has stated, “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols” (Isaiah 42:8).
How is it then that sinful mortals can carry the name of the eternal, almighty God?
Therein lies the greatest news of all time and the heart of the Bible’s message.
It starts with the matter of iniquity. That’s where David begins in this psalm. He announces, “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;” then he explains why, “in you I trust, O my God” (Psalm 25:1).
He quickly asks the Lord to remember something important. “Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old” (verse 6).
Just as quickly, he begs God to forget something. “Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways.”
Then he returns to the basis of his plea for mercy: “According to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD” (verse 7).
That’s a familiar concept for God’s people. It reminds one of the often-used table prayer, “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endures forever” (1 Chronicles 16:34 KJV).
The mercy of God is the answer to human iniquity. The Bible defines iniquity in many ways, such as, “do wrong,” “transgression” and “miss the mark.” But the most common term is “sin.” David hit the mark when he confessed to the LORD, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4).
David admitted to doing evil. That should have been a death sentence. It is written, “The soul who sins is the one who will die” (Ezekiel 18:4).
Why didn’t he? Why wasn’t he delivered to the gates of hell? When David confessed to adultery and murder, he was told, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die” (2 Samuel 12:13).
How can that be? The answer is found in David’s namesake. He was called the Son of David. He carried the name Jesus. The apostle John wrote by divine inspiration, “I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name” (1 John 2:12).
The God of free and faithful grace assures us, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).
At our baptism, we were named as his child and assured our sins had been washed away.
We still are so named. They still are washed away. We are blessed.
Already at the time of Moses, he gave his people the opportunity to have the name of the LORD placed upon them. It frequently happens in our time at the end of our worship services. The pastor raises his hands and declares,
“The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look on you with favor and give you peace.”
The LORD explained the reason for this benediction. “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them” (Numbers 6:27).
We walk out of worship with the very name of the Savior God placed upon us. We walk away with our sins forgiven. We walk forward in life, wherever our path may take us, as redeemed and richly blessed children of the heavenly Father.
When we pray, “Our Father who art in heaven,” he hears us. He knows us. He loves us. He blesses us.
We bear his name.
He is our namesake.
“How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear!
It soothes our sorrows, heals our wounds,
And drives away all fear.” Amen.
(Christian Worship 541:1)
Points to ponder:
- Since we regularly call ourselves Christian, why do we easily forget Christ is our namesake?
- How does bearing the name of God encourage us to avoid sin?
- Why should the benediction at the end of a worship service lift our spirits?
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Stillwater, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.