Do you know what your name means? There are websites and books dedicated to explaining the meaning behind names. Maybe you were given a family name—I’m named after my paternal grandfather—or maybe your name evokes a favorite song, or your parents just liked the way it sounds.
In the Old Testament, names held special significance and could reveal something about the person, their story, or their God. For example, Abraham was called “the father of many nations” (Gen.17:5), Abel’s name meant “breath” or “vapor,” and the mighty prophet Elijah’s name meant “Yahweh is my God”—certainly a reminder he needed during the darkest days of his ministry.
This month we are reading about Nehemiah whose name means “The Lord Comforts.” Now, most of us are familiar with the idea that God comforts His people, but put yourself in Nehemiah’s shoes and the shoes of his original readers. God’s people had been living in exile for decades—first under the rule of the Babylonians and then the Persians. Their country had been invaded, their best and brightest leaders forced into service, and untold numbers slaughtered before the rest were carted off into exile. What’s more, God did all of this as punishment for His people’s sin.
It is hard to imagine the pain, difficulty, and disillusionment the Hebrew people must have experienced in exile, but I’m certain we can all relate to feeling loss or abandonment. Like Nehemiah’s audience, we have walked through times where we desperately needed the Lord’s comfort. As this story unfolds, we’ll see that comfort is exactly what the Lord provided as He led His people back to the Promised Land and restored their relationship with Him.
>> Do you need comfort from the Lord today? Ask God to use this study to remind you of His love for you. He has a plan and a purpose for Your life. And if our relationship with God is broken, He is ready to restore it.
Father, with sore hearts we seek Your comfort. When our faith is strong, we trust that You are with us, but in weakness we need reassurance. Please make Your loving presence apparent to us. Be strong for us.