For His Name’s Sake: Part I
Psalms 23 and 25

The five-part series: For His Name’s Sake: A View from the Psalms highlights the psalmist’s recognition of God’s majesty and power as acts on His behalf and for His people – for His Name’s Sake. In biblical times, the name of a person was of special significance. The significance of the name was generally known by everybody. The name had a personal touch expressive of some characteristic or presumed characteristic of the person. The name God reflects His self revelation and deserves our attention. You might say it is His self-revelation rightly understood.

What is in a name? Names are significant. Some recent research suggested that names can influence choice of profession, where we live, whom we marry, the grades we make, and the stocks we invest in. Names may influence whether we’re accepted to a school or are hired for a particular job. They may influence the quality of a person’s work in a group setting. Our names can even determine whether we give money to disaster victims. If we share an initial with the name of a hurricane, according to one study, we are far more likely to donate to relief funds.

In biblical times, names were given prophetically (for instance, the name Jesus in Matthew 1:21). Others were given as an expression of the parents hope (Noah, meaning rest/comfort). Names were changed to emphasize God’s presence, power, promise, and purpose as acknowledged by the person and the fruit of Godly change. For example, the name Abram was changed to Abraham (Genesis 17:5). The change marked Abraham as Yahweh’s servant and His covenant mediator. Yahweh changed Jacob’s name to Israel (Genesis 32:28). The change occurred after Jacob had acknowledged God as the source of his blessings. Jacob acknowledged and embraced the teaching of the psalmist in Psalm 46:10: be still and know I am God. Jacob began to acknowledge that God is God and He rules, not Jacob. Jacob had begun to humble himself. Jacob began to understand what for His name’s sake meant. He began to understand it individually but his blessings as described in Genesis 49 indicate he understood it corporately as part of God’s covenantal faithfulness.

In the most general sense of the word name, the phrase “the name of God” is His self-revelation. His name reflects the depth of His divine Being. His name is a revelation of Himself in relation to man and the universe. God is a revelational Being who created man a revelation receiver, interpreter, and implementer. God revealed Himself in Christ, in creation, and in the written word. The Bible designates these facts about God by the use of a variety of names. Importantly, the names of God are not human inventions. They are of divine origin, but they are borrowed from human language and human relations. They are recorded in the Bible for God’s glory and the believer’s benefit. When God speaks you must hear. God is none other than the Creator, Controller, and Sustainer of His world and His people.

Since God is truth, all that He reveals is truth. God reveals Himself by a name which is a revelation of who He is. One theologian astutely wrote: “God is what he calls himself, and he calls himself what he is.” God has revealed Himself by various names. Therefore every believer must take notice when the Bible uses the phrase “for His name’s sake.” The Psalter uses the phrase at least seven times. We look at two of the passages in this blog.

Psalm 23:3: he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name sake. Psalm 23 is well known – the Lord is my shepherd. Psalm 23 is a member of the first book of the Psalter (Psalms 1-41). David is the author of at least 39 of the psalms in book I. The theme of book one is confrontation as David establishes the messianic kingdom of righteousness and peace. The Davidic kingdom is on the rise. David was Yahweh’s man and agent. He knew he was saved. David was interested in growth in godliness. His mission was to establish kingship as a fulfillment of God’s promise to David (2 Samuel 7:12-16). Therefore, prosperity of the Lord’s servant would bring honor to God (see 1 Kings 8:41-42; Isaiah 48:9-11; Jeremiah 14:7, 21). David understood that the Lord Himself was David’s Shepherd-King. David was fighting in order to establish the messianic kingdom because he knew he was Yahweh’s agent. He was a type of Christ – the lesser David – but he was not Christ.

Psalm 23 gives a picture of the relationship the Father had with the greater David, Jesus Christ and His relationship with David. The Lord provided tender care for David and protection against his enemies. David acknowledged this fact and blessing. Like Christ, he and professed his joyful trust in his Shepherd-King. Jesus always acknowledged the Father and repeatedly in John’s gospel stated why he came: to please the Father and do His will (John 4:31-34). The key: the Lord protects Himself. For His name’s sake indicates that He protected and protects His name. He protected His servants, the lesser and greater David.

Psalm 25:11: For the sake of your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity though it is great. There are at least four explicit acknowledgements of personal sin in Psalm 25 (v.7, 8, 11, 18). David is convicted of personal sin and confesses it as testimony to his understanding and acceptance of God’s covenantal faithfulness and his own humility (v.9). He confesses for His name’s sake! We are not told the nature of those sins. In Psalm 23, David was a saved man and he knew God as Shepherd-King. In Psalm 25, David acknowledged his Lord as the Forgiver, for His name’s sake. The two are linked and both reflect God’s honor. Even in his sins, David became rightly oriented. David pointed to the greater David, Jesus Christ who is the name by which sins are forgiven (1 John 2:12; 3:23).

The truth of forgiveness moves the believer to the very epicenter of God: the just Judge of all the world does judge justly (Genesis 18:25). He judged Christ in the place of the believer. Christ went to hell on the cross (Romans 3:2-26; 5:6-10; 2 Corinthians 5:21). How can it be that anyone would bear the totality of God’s wrath? Jesus did once-for-all and the Father forgives as a function of bringing His people into proper fellowship with Him.

1. What are your initial thoughts when you consider for His name sake?
2. What does the term: For his name sake God signify? See Exodus 5:1-2 to help answer the question.
3. How does for His name sake fit the third commandment?
4. What does for His name sake teach you about God?

For His name’s Sake: More From the Psalms: Part II
Psalm 31 and Psalm 79

Continuing our study For His Name’s Sake: a view from the Psalms, it is apparent that names matter and there is no name that matters more than the name of the Triune God. Names matter because they reflect God’s self-revelation (Who He is), and they strengthen our understanding, reverence, and awe that are due God. A number of Psalms highlight praise and thanksgiving for God’s name sake. In Part B blog we briefly reviewed Psalms 23:3 and 25:11. These passages convey truth about God that was to encourage readers by at least two facts: as the Great Shepherd, God is the Restorer and Guider (Psalm 23) and He is the Forgiver (Psalm 25). All of these activities are for the glory of God – for His name sake – and the benefit of His people. The two are linked.

Psalm 31 was written by David apparently when confronted by friends and foes alike. This psalm as well as others (Psalms 18, 27, and 40) gives the imagery of Yahweh as the Rock. He is pictured as the One Who sets His messianic servant on a firm foundation which is a picture of restored Zion. Zion was a place of security and stability because of God’s presence (see Psalms 2, 9, 20, 46, 48).
v.1: In you O Lord I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
v.2: Turn your ear to me; come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
v.3: Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name, lead and guide me. Psalm 31:1-3.

Consider David’s situation. He was the rightful representative of God in the establishment of a messianic kingdom. He was God’s man. Yet it did not seem as if anyone knew or agreed with his position and task. David could have followed Saul and pursued things his way for his glory. Rather, David draws on the proven imagery of God’s immovable fidelity, security, and stability as well as God’s steadfast trustworthiness -all for His name’s sake (also see 2 Samuel 23:3-4)

As I have mentioned previously, in the Psalter there is movement. In book I of the Psalter (Psalms 1-41), we find David laboring to establish his messianic kingship and to find a permanent dwelling place in Jerusalem for the ark. David knew his God. The “Rock” imagery fits the flow of the Psalter and fits God’s ultimate purpose: the establishment of a perpetual kingship and kingdom according to God’s covenant with David (2 Samuel 7). David trusted God for His name’s sake. David and the people were blessed.

Psalm 79 in book three of the Psalter (73-89) is one of seven Psalms that highlight devastation (Psalms 77-83). The theme of book three is one of devastation, the collapse of the Davidic kingship, and departure of glory from Israel. Times were hard for Israel. The monarchy – the king himself – was collapsing and the exile was imminent. As the king want went so did the nation. Israel’s destiny followed the king. The people had no conviction of sin and lived for the moment and for self. Psalm 79 describes the dissolution of the city of Jerusalem and the temple by the Babylonians. Darkness and desolation permeated the atmosphere. However, the psalmist knew where to go and what to say. In verse 9 we read: Help us O God our savior for the glory of thy name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. The psalmist took a vertical and horizontal view regarding Israel and her situation. God’s name was at stake. For His name’s sake was a rallying cry for the les David as it was perfectly for the Greater David, Jesus Christ,

The ignorance and arrogance of idolatrous Israel had brought reproach and dishonor to Him. The psalmist knew that the salvation of God’s people brings glory to Him which beings blessings and often propensity. The psalmist knew that his God was ever present. He appealed to Him by acknowledging sin and requesting forgiveness. Ask yourself: whose name sake is most significant to you: yours or God’s? God will not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8; 48:8-11). Why should you tempt God?

1. For God’s name sake: how do you apply that statement daily?
2. What about the statement excites you and what about it seems so mundane and commonplace?
3. Read the Psalms listed. Do you sense the flavor and intensity of the psalmist’s burden as he cried out to God? Give reasons for your answers.

For His Name’s Sake: Psalm 106: Part III

Continuing our study: For His names’ sake: through the Psalms, we move into the fourth book of the Psalter. Psalm 106 closes the fourth book of the Psalter which includes Psalms 90-106. These Psalms cover the period of Israel’s exile. The theme of book four is one of life in exile. It is a time of reflection and maturation especially for the remnant. Psalms 104-106 are the first triad of Halleu-Yah Psalms – Praise the Lord (others include Psalms 111-117, 135, 146-150). The term Hallelu-Yah is rare in the Bible occurring for the first time in Psalms 104-106 and only in Book five of the Psalter. In the New Testament the phrase occurs in Revelation 19:1, 3-4, 6. Psalm 106 begins and ends with the phrase. 

Psalms 105-106 are linked and are two psalms that review Israel’s history. They recall God’s sovereign direction in the life of Israel when He seemed so far away and the times of God’s providence which were often unpleasant. Both review Israel’s redemptive history but from different perspectives. Psalm 105 recalls God’s faithfulness and Psalm 106 recalls Israel’s unfaithfulness. The first five verses (v.1-5) of Psalm 106 praise God for His mighty acts and justice. The psalmist includes a plea to God for His favor (verse 4).

He then launches into confession of sin. He connects the sin of his own day with the sin of ancient Israel (v.6): we have sinned even as our fathers did. Throughout the psalm the author catalogs Israel’s rebellion as acting as their own god by fashioning objects called gods made with their own hands. They were worshiping people, but they worshiped self through gods as they knew them. They claimed they were worshiping Yahweh, but in fact they were worshiping themselves. Throughout the Psalm, sin is repeatedly confessed (v.6, 13, 16, 21, 24-25, 29, 32-33, 37, 43). Confession of sin, patterned self-pleasing and self-worship and the excuses for self-pleasing was God’s answer for restoration.

Being in God’s presence was God’s original design at creation. Adam and Eve and all mankind were exiled from God’s presence as a result of Adam’s sin and God’s judgment. Israel, as did Adam and Eve, had played the harlot. Israel had an issue with God: was He a faithful promise-keeper and could He perform the way Israel thought He should? Her rebellion, and mankind’s rebellion, flowed from her low view of God and His faithfulness and her high view of self. Israel did not acknowledge it but her rebellion went all the way back to the Garden and God’s promise in Genesis 3:15. Thinking people who desired fellowship with god asked: would God open a way into His presence?

The Psalm closes with a testimony to God’s covenantal faithfulness (v.44-48). This theme is highlighted in verse 8: Yet he saved them for his name sake, to make his mighty power known. This verse summarizes Romans 9:22-23 and accentuates God’s presence, power, promises, plan, provisions, and purpose. It covers all of redemptive history. God the King saves His people in spite of them. He is gracious to forgive. He promised to be faithful and He was, is, and will be.

Israel’s sins could not deter God from His ordained love plan. God’s faithfulness was ultimately demonstrated by sending His Son and the Holy Spirit. The very fact of His Son as the sacrificed and resurrected Lamb-Lion and the indwelling Holy Spirit affirm His gracious faithfulness.
By his conclusion (v.44-48), the psalmist offered hope for a beleaguered nation. God had shown Himself to be the just Judge of the world and a most gracious Restorer. The remnant needed the continued hope of restoration as they return from exile. This hope picks up tempo in the rest of Book five of the Psalter.

1. What do you think about God as a Promise-maker and Promise-keeper?
2. List some of God’s promises and reflect on them. What is the result of that reflection?
3. From Lamentations 3:23, we read that God’s faithfulness is new every morning:
a. What is God’s faithfulness?
b. How do you respond and give reasons to verse 23?

More from the Psalms: Part IV
Psalm 109

Ps. 109:21: But you, O sovereign Lord, deal well with me for your name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.

Psalms 108-110 form the third collection of Davidic psalms in the Psalter. In each of these three psalms there is more than redemptive revelation than is found in previous Davidic psalms. Psalm 108 addresses troubling times for David. But his heart is steadfast (108:1). He has knowledge of his God and trusts Him (108:10-13). The psalm paints a brighter picture for Israel and him as the messianic king. David is prepared to praise Yahweh among the nations (108:3).

Psalm 109 vividly depicts David’s ongoing struggles and confrontations with his, and God’s, enemies. His enemies don’t want Yahweh as Israel’s King. Therefore, they are opposed to David as king. The enemies of David are from the seed of Satan. David recognized the spiritual nature of the battle. David acknowledged God as the One he praises (v.1, 30-31). He desired to be in the presence of God for worship, fellowship, and intimacy. He acknowledged his situation in verse 22: For I am poor and needy and my heart is wounded within me.

It is in the context of a suffering servant in the context of God’s providence that we read verse 21. David asked God to deal well with him. He knew that Yahweh had done just that, and he was confident that Yahweh would continue (v.26-27). Yahweh’s reputation was on the line (see Moses’ dialogue with Yahweh in Exodus 32:11-13; 33:12-17). Verse 21 expresses the truth that God’s honor is the major feature. David’s appeal is on the surest basis of all – for God’s name sake. David knew God would protect His honor. So David prayed that God would deal with him as fits God’s honor. This is a remarkable request and testimony. David as a person but more so as God’s representative as the messianic king was under attack. He reasoned that God’s glory and name were under attack. He ended his prayer in v.30-31 with another acknowledgment and praise of God’s presence and power. He praised God as the Controller and faithful One.

The final editor of the Psalter placed a number of Davidic psalms in book five including Psalms 108-110 (Psalms 122, 124, 1311, 134, 138-145). Why, when David had died some 500 years prior? The editor knew the Israelites needed to hear from David. The message was the same then, post-exile, and now: God is King, and He rules, and He rules well. David counseled and comforted himself with that truth. He got busy being God’s kind of messianic king. Believers today are called to remember the simple truths that God is God, that this is His world, and that believers in all ages are to focus on becoming more like Christ for God’s glory, the believer’s own benefit, and the good of the Church (Ephesians 4:11-14).

1. The phrase for God’s name sake calls every believer to review and apply the third commandment: you shall not misuse (or profane or make common) the Lord’s name.
2. What are some ways you can misuse God’s name?
3. How does the prologue to the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:2 (I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt out of the land of bondage) help you think properly about God and His name and to use it wisely and properly?

For His Name’s Sake: Psalm 143: Part V

Continuing our mini-review of the Holy Spirit’s use of the phrase for His name’s sake: a view from the Psalms, we consider Psalm 143:11: For your name’s sake, O Lord preserve my life; in your righteousness bring me out of trouble.

This is the last psalm in the collection of seven that includes the phrase for his name’s sake (Psalms 23:3; 25:11; 31:3; 79:9; 106:8; 109:21). All are Davidic except Psalm 79 (Asaph) and Psalm 106 which is part of the first triad of the Hallelu-Yah psalms (Psalms 104-106). Psalm 143 is part of the final collection of the Davidic Psalms (Psalms 138-145). A number of psalms in this final collection rehearsed the need and hope for divine intervention (see especially Psalms 140, 142-144). (Note: the Davidic Psalms include Psalms 3-41; 51-71; 86; 108-110; 122, 124, 131, 133; 138-145).

The theme of book four of the Psalter (Psalms 90-106) was one of maturation during life in exile. Would God keep His promises to Israel first established in the covenant to Abraham and repeated to David? The theme changed in book five (Psalms 107-150). The theme is a return from exile, praise, and consummation of Israel’s confidence in Yahweh as covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. Israel had work to do as God’s people. They had been disciplined by God and sent into exile. Many had been deported to Babylon while some remained behind. In either place, they were under Babylonian control. They had lost their homeland, their temple, and their glory. They longed for a “better life.” Their definition of a “better life” did not fit God’s definition. They had to learn that God had not abandoned them and His thoughts and desires were to be theirs.

Throughout the theocracy the enemy had exerted great effort to overcome the messianic king who was God’s representative. The king represented the people to God. Book five of the Psalter increasingly declares the ultimate triumph over all of the enemies of the Messiah’s kingdom. This was and is wonderful news for all of God’s people. A constant reminder that Yahweh was/is King was needed then and now.

Psalm 143 was used by the final editor of the Psalter to turn the people from themselves to their God. As noted above the majority of the psalms written by David appear in books I and II. Why then does this group of psalms appear now (Psalms 138-145)? What sense does it make to “re-introduce” David’s enemies some 500 years later? Moreover, the Psalter had already declared Yahweh Malak – Yahweh is King (Psalms 92-100)? Given their situation and even returned from exile, the people wondered and pondered if Yahweh was truly King and if so, what kind of King was He.

The Psalter’s resounding answer is yes. The placement of these psalms and their truths were suitable for life before, during, and after exile. They are just as suitable for us today. The Triune God is King. Jesus is on the throne. He awaits the final triumph. Those truths were to be a blessing to the people then and now. The Messianic kingdom is not a figment of one’s imagination. It is a reality and the final editor of the Psalter desired to bring that truth home. Israel and Jerusalem was a far cry from her previous glory. Therefore, as a source of truth, hope, and encouragement, the editor of the Psalter placed the “last” of the Davidic Psalms at the end of the Psalter.

Psalm 143 is a prayer that communicates the reality of the battle. Verse 3 (The enemy pursues me; he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead) communicates David’s angst and it reminds the reader of Lamentations 3:6. The author of that book (most likely Jeremiah) was witnessing the fall of Jerusalem, a cataclysmic event which was not thought possible. In his situation, what was David to do? There was a God to pray to – his God. He boldly prayed as a student. He desired to know God’s will and obey because he knew God was his God (v.10). Verse 11 follows: for your name’s sake preserve my life. What was David up to? Was he interested in his own skin? No, David knew he was God’s servant (v.12). He had work to do as God’s servant and messianic king. He looked forward to victory. David’s victory was God’s victory and vice verse. David counseled himself to get busy being God’s kind of king. He trusted God.

So, too, was Israel to counsel herself. She had the same God as David who had proven Himself. He was their God, but they had not been His people. That was to change. Therefore, the editor showcases the lesser David to Israel in order to point to the greater David. The same truth applies to the Church and individual believers today.

1. How do you counsel yourself in pleasant and unpleasant times?
2. What truths about God and himself did David depend on?
3. What truths do you depend on?