All Those Names

Day by Day Devotions


I’ve been reading through the historical books of the Old Testament- particularly Ezra and Nehemiah. I’ve noticed, as well in 1 and 2 Chronicles, there are a plethora of names. So many, that often they’re hard to pronounce. Most of the time, we’ll just skip over them, to save time and frustration. But when using a screen reader, I have to read all through them, since that’s the way it works.

It reminded me of
Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”

Most of these names were obscure, but some were familiar, i.e. Job, Zechariah, Daniel, Isiah, Asaph, etc. Many of them were the Levites, priests, and those who worked in or around the Temple, God’s dwelling place.

I wonder often why God had all those names added, because it takes up a lot of space. If God’s Word is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and we know that it is,
(2 Timothy 3:16, All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”)
then these names must have been important to Him.

Thus, He wanted us to know who these folks were. I think He was so proud of each and every one of them, that He allowed their names to be added to the Scriptures. I also pondered who these people were: like Sheltiel, or Asaph, or Cadmiel, or Bunni, – these were real people, with real lives, and real jobs. Asaph was the leader of the musicians, and many of the Psalms were written by him. The others mentioned are just part of the Levites and priests.

I hated my name growing up. I was the only “Olivia” in my school, and because of being blind, everybody knew me, even if I didn’t know them. As mentioned In chapter 1 of my book, Looking at the Unseen: My Guide Dog Journey-How God Led Me Every Step of the Way,  I had to put up with much teasing and butchering of my last name as well. It wasn’t fun.

Also, with the book, I had to change all those dogs’ names, my classmates, schools, etc. I clarified this in my Acknowledgments, and if you grab a copy of the book, you’ll see this.

Several years ago, I encountered a book listing over four thousand names, their meanings, derivatives, and life- Scripture verses. I discovered that my name means “peaceful spirit,” being a derivative of “Olive”. That made sense to me, and I’ve loved it ever since. I think it fits me, don’t you think? God did know what He was doing by allowing my parents to give me my name.

And, isn’t  it a comfort to know that God has my name written in the palm of His hand!

Isaiah 49:16See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.”

The right hand was the hand of honor and privilege in Old Testament times. Therefore, we can deduce that God loves, honors and adores us as His children. What a comfort when things aren’t going as well as we’d liked!

So see, your name is just as important as those myriads of unknowns mention in Scripture. Go on line, or check out the book, What’s in A Name? by Al Palmquist, I’m not sure of the date, possibly ’74. Find out what your name means. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Lord, thank You that You know our names, and that they’re important to us and to You. Help us to be listening when You call us, and help us to obey Your bidding. We love You. In Your Precious Name, we pray. Amen!


Olivia Ostergaard