1 Samuel 17:43-45
2 Timothy 2:19-21
With the Spirit’s help, I want to say something tonight about the name of the Lord. When I say, ‘The name of the Lord,’ I do not mean His title. He has many titles. The many titles of the Lord Jesus in Scripture is an interesting study: Saviour, Lord, Shepherd, one could go on! It is an interesting study, especially when you are younger, just to go through the different titles of the Lord. But that is not what I have in mind. Every Scripture we have read mentions the name of the Lord, or the name of Jehovah. What I think that actually means is not so much His title, but what He is and, more importantly, how He identifies Himself with His people, or how we, as His people, identify with Him.
The first two Scriptures are really individual. In the third Scripture we have the beginning of something which is collective. In the final two Scriptures we have what is collective. I just want to go briefly through them all.
We start with this wonderful verse which many of us know, “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower” – another rendering is, “A high tower.” It is above everything else. There is much safety in being identified with the Lord Jesus. There is much against the Christian: there is the world and the flesh and the devil. This Scripture appeals to me and is, if I can use it this way, defensive. It is to help the Christian in his pathway here; it is to defend him against the attacks of our enemy.
There is a qualification, though. It is the righteous who go into it and are safe. What does that mean? No one is righteous in themselves: we need to come to Christ and own Him as Saviour, and then we are made righteous, we are made fit, as it says in the Scriptures. It is wonderful that, although our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isa 64:6), by coming to Christ, we are made righteous; we are made fit (Col 1:12).
But then, you see, the other side is that there is a practical outflow. If I have eternal life, if I have Christ in me, then there is something to be seen. We do acts of righteousness. We are righteous by state and we are also righteous by character. What does “righteous” mean? It means doing things which are right, and only the Christian, only the believer in the Lord Jesus, can really do things that are right. It is that kind of man that can run into this tower and be safe.
If you are under the wings of the Lord Jesus, if you take His name upon your lips, if you confess His name (Rom 10:9), it is the way of salvation. And, as we have often been told, it is not just salvation from our sins but practical salvation from the world, the flesh and the devil. As we name the Lord, as we take His banner, put it over ourselves, we run into that high tower and nothing can get us.
Paul said, “If God be for us, who against us?” (Rom 8:31). Some towers in the history of this world have fallen down. This tower will never fall down! It is a high place, you can run into it and be safe. The name of the Lord is a strong tower. I wonder if you, as a believer, in your individual pathway, are taking the Lord with you. Are you identified with His name? To be for Him is what we sang of in our hymn (180), to be here for Him. That is not optional. Every believer must be here for Him!
He has been here for us, dear brethren. He has given His very life so that we might have eternal life. He has given everything that we “might have life,” He says, “and might have it abundantly” (John 10:10). There are things in this world that would try to snuff out your Christian life. We live in a world today of unprecedented attack against what is of God. In this country particularly, everything that was once called Christian publicly is being threatened and challenged: values, truths, beliefs. For you as an individual believer, dear brother or sister, the answer is still the same: the name of the Lord is a strong tower.
One of the hymns, the gospel songs that we sometimes sing, says, ‘Take the name of Jesus with you.’ You take it with you wherever you go. “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” That is what I might call a defensive position for every believer.
When we come to the next Scripture in Samuel, this is what I call the offensive position. This is fighting the enemy on his own ground. It is interesting that even the world knows about this story – it talks about ‘David and Goliath,’ it talks about little corporations against big corporations, and it talks about a ‘David and Goliath’ situation. But people do not understand the import of what it is!
Here is this shepherd boy, David. He is offered the armour of Saul, and that is no good (vv38‑39). Our warfare is not carnal, it is against principalities and powers (see 2 Cor 10:4; Eph 6:12). It is no good being armed with what this world has to offer.
David was to become a king. He grew up amongst the sheepfolds, and he knew what it was to depend upon God (1 Sam 17:37). He was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14). He knew what it was to trust in his God absolutely.
Israel was in a sorry state; the Philistines were attacking on every hand, and here was a challenge to God Himself (end of v26). David takes it upon himself, he would not rest! Saul and his camp were too frightened. They were, maybe, not too bothered. Goliath was more of an annoyance to Saul and his camp. But for David it was not just an annoyance: the rights of God were being challenged, and he said to himself, ‘I have to deal with this.’
That should be the desire of us as believers. The rights of God are being challenged today. What is the answer? David says to Goliath, “Thou comest to me with sword, and with spear, and with javelin,” those things that look so menacing, “but I come to thee in the name of Jehovah of hosts.” What a wonderful armour that was!
There was Goliath in all his supposed majesty, with all his weapons, and there was the simple shepherd boy who trusted in his God. He had five small stones, but he came in the name of Jehovah. What a victory David won that day! We can be victorious: Paul says, “I have strength for all things in Him that gives me power” (Philippians 4:13). David was concerned for the name of Jehovah. I wonder if you are concerned for the name of the Lord.
Goliath was defeated. I just leave this passage with a question to you. What defeated Goliath? Was it the small stone or was it the name of Jehovah?
The beginning of Genesis is very interesting. Beginnings are very important in Scripture. We have the history of Cain and Abel. These are two lines which run through Scripture right from the very beginning to the very end; that is another interesting study for some of us who are older. Cain was of the evil one (see 1 John 3:12). Eve probably was not thinking right at the time because she named him, ‘Acquisition;’ she thought she had a man after her heart. Eve named him Cain, saying “I have acquired a man,” but with maybe just a hint of pride. In contrast, David was a man after God’s own heart.
Then we come to Seth. In God’s ways and grace there is a replacement for Cain. That is not Eve’s doing, this is God working. It is wonderful that, whatever mistakes the people of God make in the testimony, God always has the agenda, dear brethren; He always takes the initiative. He knows what He is doing.
And so, in God’s ways, there is a replacement for Cain, and his name is Seth. The name of Seth means ‘appointed,’ because God is doing the ordering here. It is not Eve in control, it is God in control. He is appointing this one.
And then we come to the next generation and it is Enosh; and the note there says, ‘Weak, mortal man.’ It is very interesting, it says at that point they “began to call on the name of Jehovah.” When we feel our weakness and our dependency on God, then there is a move, and man begins to call on the name of Jehovah.
Religious pride is not interested, but as soon as we understand the work of grace in the heart, there is a movement. God ordained and God inspired that there should be a movement towards Himself. When this line of recognised frailty and weakness comes in, then God comes in and stirs up the hearts of the people. It says, “Then people began to call on the name of Jehovah.”
I wonder if there is a stirring today! God delights to stir up His people. Here, there was going to be a line brought in which would go right on, the line of faith, the line of God’s blessing. You find that God moves individuals and then they come together, and that is what we have in the last two Scriptures, that there is what is collective. We can enjoy these wonderful things in our Christian pathway. We know something of the name of the Lord over us individually, and His banner over us is love (Cant 2:4). But then we find we have others we can meet with. And so I move over to the New Testament.
It is interesting to read the context in Matthew 18. You should always read the context. There had been a lot of disputes, the disciples were wondering who was the greatest, and then the Lord brings out a lot of other teaching. And then He speaks about these two things which we read of in verses 19 and 20. If I can put it this way, this Scripture is what I would say is internal. This is where two are coming together, and they meet for the sole purpose of having the Lord’s mind and the Lord’s presence.
We often hear about these twos and threes. When I was younger, I used to think it was almost a charter for small meetings. It is not exactly so. There are small meetings around, in God’s ways, and I can say that if they gather in the Lord’s name, He will be there in the midst. That is a guarantee.
But it is said in the context of a prayer, “If two of you shall agree … concerning any matter.” That is a very great challenge. Agreeing on any one matter is quite a thing in itself. And that is the criterion. But I get the feeling that this Scripture actually points to two believers coming together for some specific purpose, and there have been cases, in the war and at other times, when believers have met together with specific purpose, to pray and to get the mind of the Lord. The Lord says, ‘I will be there in the midst of you.’
This does come down to our day, of course. Yes, none of our meetings is big. The point is, are we gathering in the Lord’s name? It says here, “Where two or three are gathered together unto My name.” What does that mean? The paradoxical thing is that it has a universal bearing. I am trying to think of an illustration of this. Suppose I belonged to Worthing Stamp Club, for example. Now, to someone coming from another place, it would be of no relevance to them. They might be interested in stamps, but it would be of no relevance to them because they do not live in Worthing. But, if I gather to the Lord’s name, that has universal bearing, and I need to be in accord with what He is to His people.
All believers should be on this line. It does not matter if there are 5000 in the company or whether there are two or three. The point is, they should have one common purpose. The Lord Jesus is the focal point, they are gathered to Him. It is not our interest, we are not sharing social interests when we come together. Rather, we have one common bond, and that is the name of the Lord.
That name has become precious to us because we belong to Him. ‘Lord, we are Thine, bought by Thy blood’ (Hymn 58). If you belong to Jesus, then you will value His name, and what His name means to His people. “Where two or three are gathered together unto My name” raises a challenge as to why we are coming together. For what purpose do we come together? It is so easy to come to the meetings in a casual way or a mechanical way. Do we come together knowing that common bond, that common purpose, that thing that binds us together, which is the Lord Himself?
Jude speaks of “our common salvation” (v3). That does not mean ‘cheap’ or ‘everyday:’ it means what is shared, what is known to us all. So when I come together on a Lord’s Day morning with a few believers that honour the name of the Lord Jesus, we have something vital in common. We may be different externally; we may have different views on certain things. But our commonality is the Lord Jesus Himself, and we are gathering to His name. And when we do that, then there is not a possibility but a guarantee: He says, ‘I will be there’; “There am I in the midst of them.” How wonderful that is! The Lord of glory vouchsafes to come amongst us, “There am I in the midst of them.” I would like to know something more of the presence of the Lord. We were hearing about that in Worthing a couple of weeks ago. It would be a wonderful thing to cultivate that.
But it can only be so as we have the right aim, the right purpose in coming together. Why do we come together? Is it just to have a social chat, to see one another? It is good to see the brethren, but we are here because we love the Lord and because we want Him to be central to our gatherings. He is to be the focal point.
I suppose the epitome of this is the breaking of bread. When I come into the room, what do I see? I may see all sorts of things, but what do I focus on? It is the bread and the cup – the Lord Jesus Himself, and we are really gathering to His name. But that is an internal thing, a private view for all those that belong to Him. This does not make any sense to the world. The world would not understand any of what I am saying. If you are not a believer, you will not either. This is for believers, that as they gather together, to the name of the Lord, they then have a wonderful sense of His presence. Where two or three are gathered together unto His name, “there am I in the midst of them.”
This was said before He went to the Cross, died, was buried and rose again, but it is still true today. Before He left them, He said, “I go away and I am coming to you” (John 14:28) and “I will not leave you orphans, I am coming to you” (John 14:18). How often do we experience the presence of the Lord? I suggest that it is inasmuch as we gather to His name and have Him as the centre, the central point. We know our minds – they wander – but may we be helped to focus on and rally round the Lord.
In that scene in the cave of Adullam, David was in rejection, as is Jesus still today, but they all gathered round him and it says, “He became a captain over them” (1 Sam 22:2). Our Captain is on high. He is rejected on this earth, but He delights to come amongst His people. May we know something of gathering unto His name!
That is internal. What I read at the end of 2 Timothy 2 appeals to me as what is more an external situation, because we are really identifying ourselves with the name of the Lord publicly, every one that names the name of the Lord. This is an interesting passage: Paul was writing to Timothy to encourage him as things were falling apart. This was a bad day in the testimony – not long, really, after the Lord Jesus had risen and ascended.
The Spirit had, through Paul, done such wonderful work. New assemblies, new gatherings, were being set up. Read the Epistles and you will see that it was a time of great blessing, and yet at the same time there was dissension. There were these two people here who said the Resurrection had taken place already (vv17‑18). That was bad doctrine. He says to Timothy, do not worry because things from the Lord’s side will not fail.
Jesus had already said, “On this rock I will build My assembly, and Hades’ gates shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). That is not going to fail. And so we have this coin, a two-sided coin. On one side, “The firm foundation of God stands, having this seal,” and on the other, “Let every one who names the name of the Lord withdraw from iniquity.”
Sometimes in a building you find at the bottom an inscription plate of the builder. The Lord has written that inscription on His building. He is the Cornerstone, and that is not going to fail. “Behold, I lay for foundation in Zion a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation” (Isa 28:16): “The firm foundation of God stands.” That is His side. It has nothing to do with me. God will not fail His Church. Yes, it may go from its ruins to its glory, but God’s purposes will never fail. That foundation remains, and it remains to this day. The proof of that? 2000 years on from the Lord Jesus going on high, we are sitting here in a room today. Why on earth would we be sitting here today? Because the firm foundation of God stands! It is here. That is God’s side.
But the other side of the coin is my responsibility, “Let every one who names the name of the Lord.” I need to take a stand for Christ. In the history of the Church there are those who have done that. Luther said, ‘Here I stand.’ There was the whole religious world against him; ‘Here I stand, I can do no other.’ There have been other such stands throughout history. The onus is on us to name the name of the Lord.
When I was a young lad, this was a very well-known Scripture amongst the brethren. This Scripture has been applied, and it has been misapplied. But it is still Scripture. It stands. It is not ‘brethren doctrine,’ dear brethren, it is Scripture!
And so, publicly, if I understand what God has done in setting up that foundation – you read JND’s note, I think I understand what he is trying to say – that foundation stands. Thank God for His sovereign work; it is immutable. That will never fail. But you, as someone who has been bought by the Lord Jesus and belongs to Him, have a duty, you have a responsibility to name the name of the Lord. That is why I say it is external. The world may not see our gatherings together, but the world should see this. We name the name of the Lord. We say, publicly, ‘I am identified with Him.’ That is what I think it means: that we identify ourselves publicly with the name of the Lord Jesus. And we can overcome. Interestingly, in the Revelation there are those who overcome. It says, “I will give to him … a new name” (Rev 2:17).
But if we name the name of the Lord, there is a consequence: we need to withdraw from iniquity. What is iniquity? Well, I would suggest to you, as someone once suggested to me, that it is evil doctrine and evil practices. We need to separate ourselves from that. And that is not a ‘brethren doctrine,’ that is the Scripture!
I used to think that ‘brethren’ were the only people that took any account of this Scripture. That is not so. But we live in a world where there is much profession, and we need to be real. The whole point of this is reality, and if I take the name of Jesus, if I identify myself with Him, then I need to make sure that I am living a life which is holy and separate. That does not mean reclusive – it does not mean I go into a monastery. What it does mean is that I bring no ill repute on the name of the Lord Jesus. In the history of the Church, how much damage has been done to the name of the Lord by the conduct of His own people! That comes very close home, dear brethren, very close home.
But we have the wonderful privilege of being identified with our Saviour’s dear name. As we name Him, and take His name on us, then we have a duty to be here exclusively for Him, separating ourselves from evil, and to walk in a way that is pleasing to Him. It goes on, and Paul explains what he means, that we are to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace. There is a course of action which is a consequence of separating from evil.
Well, that is a public thing. Do we, as believers, recognise how we have been brought to the Lord, do we stand up for Him?
That is all I have to say, dear brethren – to think about the name of the Lord; how it affects us individually in our pathways, how it affects us as we meet together to experience His presence, and then how we are to be a witness and a testimony to Him. Why are we left here in this world? We could be taken to glory the moment we believed! But we are left here for a reason, and one reason is that we should be a testimony. A witness which is marred by sin and unholiness is no testimony at all.
Let us then name the name of the Lord, and be identified with Him, for His name’s sake.
23 November 2013