Psalms 23; 46; 14; 53 : The Divine Names in the Psalms
There is one Lord, our Heavenly Father. "The first of all the Commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first Commandment." But in the Bible, the Lord is called by several names. In the first Great Commandment that we just said, there are two names, Lord and God. We will say it again and notice the names. These are the two names of the Lord most used in the Old Testament. The name Lord means that He is very loving, and the name God means that He is very wise. In the New Testament, there are two other names which are most often used. "Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me." (Matt. 19:14) "Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11) Jesus and Christ are the names by which the Lord is most often called in the New Testament. The name Jesus means that He is very loving, and the name Christ means that He is very wise.
It is interesting when you read the Bible, or hear it read, to notice the names by which the Lord is called. Listen while we say Ps. 23: "The Lord is my shepherd." You hear the name Lord at the beginning and at the end of the Psalm, and no other name. Listen while I read Ps. 121: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills." The name Lord is the only name in this Psalm, used five times. I will read Ps. 5. In this Psalm, both names are used several times. If you are not tired, listen again to Ps. 14, and then to Ps. 53. Someone who has listened carefully asks, "Are not these Psalms the same?" Yes, almost the same, except that you hear the name Lord in Ps. 14, and only the name God in Ps. 53. Once more we remember that the name Lord means that the Lord is very loving, and the name God that He is very wise.
The primary children have noticed that the one Lord is called in the Bible by several different names. What names of the Lord do you remember? A stranger reading our Bible and finding these several names might think that we believed in many gods. How could you explain it to the stranger? .A name may call attention to some quality of the Lord, as that He is very loving, or that He is very wise; or names may refer to different works of the Lord, as Creator and Savior. What two names of the Lord are most used in the Old Testament, and what two in the New Testament? What qualities of the Lord are especially suggested by these names?
The name Lord is usually printed in our Bibles in small capital letters, Lord. This is to show that it is in place of the name Jehovah, which the Jews considered too holy to be pronounced. When we find Lord, we may think of the name Jehovah. (The name Lord, not in capitals, as in Ps. 110:5, is a different name.)
It is of great interest to students of the early chapters of Genesis to watch carefully the names Lord and God. In some chapters, as in Gen. 1, the name God is used: and in other chapters as in Gen. 2 and 4, Lord God and Lord are used. Literary students think this difference of name important as showing different sources of the chapters. But to us, the name is of greatest importance as emphasizing the love or the truth of the Lord. The name most used in a chapter sets the keynote of the chapter, showing its lesson to be more of truth or more of love. The names have this same value in the Psalms, and show the lesson of some Psalms to be more of truth and the lesson of other Psalms to be more of love. Sometimes we can plainly see this in the Psalms. Compare the loving character of Ps. 23, "The Lord is my shepherd," with the firm strength of Ps. 46, "God is our refuge and strength." Have the Divine names in mind in reading the Psalms, and this thought of their meaning.
We might greatly extend our study of the use of the Divine names in Genesis, and we should find great help in the Arcana. (A. 300, 2001) It is there shown that the name God emphasizes the Divine truth, and that it is used in describing spiritual stages of development: and that the name Lord emphasizes the Divine love and is used when describing celestial states of development. For this reason the name God is used in describing the six days of creation with their labors, but when the seventh day of rest, a celestial state, is reached, the name Lord is used. A beautiful example of the use of the Divine names is found in Gen. 22, which describes the temptation of Abraham. Through the story of the temptation, in which one must depend upon the defense of the Divine truth, the name God is used. But at the 15th verse, when consolation comes to Abraham, it is spoken by the angel of Jehovah. (A. 2822, 2841)
We may follow with the same interest the use of the Divine names in the Psalms, for they have the same importance. We shall notice many instances of the name Lord in tender loving Psalms, and of the name God in Psalms expressing the Divine truth and its strength, as in Psalms 23 and 46. In general, we find that the name Lord is used more frequently in Psalms near the beginning of the Psalm-book; for example, in Psalms 1-41, the name Lord is used 272 times, while the name God is used only 15 times. In the group of Psalms which follows, 42-72, the name Lord is found but 30 times, and the name God 164 times. Toward the end of the Psalm-book, the name Lord again strongly prevails, especially from Ps. 83:14 to the end. That verse reads: "That men may know that Thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the Most High over all the earth." We shall be interested in this distribution of the Divine names in the Psalm-book when we study the Psalms more spiritually and recognize a celestial, childlike spirit in the early Psalms and a strong celestial spirit of thanksgiving in the closing Psalms, while in Psalms intervening between these two celestial groups there are many describing spiritual conflict in the power of truth. We shall think more of this in a future lesson on the Five Books of the Psalms.
The children have noticed that Psalms 14 and 53 are almost the same, with the exception of the use of the names Lord and God. Other instances of such repetition occur in the Psalter. Can we see a spiritual reason for such a repetition? We have in mind that the name Lord emphasizes the Lordís love, and the name God His truth. Is it possible that the same lesson may be given with emphasis upon its love or with emphasis upon its truth; in other words, that the same lesson may be given to those of a celestial nature and to those of a spiritual nature?