Yahweh Is the Sweetest Name I Know


John Piper:

You are not wrong to sing “Jesus is the sweetest name I know,” even though Yahweh is.

Here’s why.

God gave himself the name Yahweh. No man gave him this name. It is God’s chosen personal name. He loves to be known by this name. It is used 5,321 times in the Old Testament (according to TWOT). It is almost always translated by Lᴏʀᴅ (small caps). But it is not a title. It is a personal name, like James or Elizabeth.

You know the name Yahweh best from its shortened form Yah at the end of Hallelujah, which means “praise Yahweh.” I love to think about this when I sing. When I sing, “Hallelujah,” I love to really mean: No! I don’t praise you Bel, or Nebo, or Molech, orRimmon, or Dagon, or Chemosh. I turn from you with disdain to Yah! I praise Yah. HalleluYah!

God announced his name to Moses in Exodus 3:15. God said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘Yahweh, the God of your fathers. . . . This is my name forever.”

He preceded this announcement with two other statements so the meaning would be clear: He said, “I am who I am” (verse 14a). And he said, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you’” (verse 14b).

The Hebrew name Yahweh is connected to the Hebrew verb “I am.” So Yahweh is most fundamentally the One-Who-Is. “I am who I am” is the must foundational meaning of Yahweh. It means: My am-ness comes from my am-ness. My being from my being. My existence from my existence.

There are vast personal and covenantal implications of this. But this is foundational. No beginning. No ending. No dependence. He simply is, always was, and always will be. He communicates all of this with a personal name. To be sure, he has titles and he has attributes. But this is a personal name. He packs the weightiest truth about himself into a personal name. Infinite greatness and personal knowability are in the name Yahweh.

Then in the fullness of time Yahweh came into the world to seek and save the lost. The angel said to Joseph, “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus is an English transliteration of the Greek Iesoun. And this in turn is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew Joshua. And Joshua is a combination of Yahand “salvation” or “save”. It means “Yahweh saves.”

So Jesus means “Yahweh saves.” Jesus is Yahweh with a human nature coming to save his people from sin.

Paul confirms this in Philippians 2:11. He says of the risen Jesus, “Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” That is a quote fromIsaiah 45:23 where Yahweh is the one to whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. Paul is saying that, in the end, the whole world will acknowledge that Jesus is in fact Yahweh incarnate.

So you don’t have to choose between singing “Jesus is the sweetest name I know,” and “Yahweh is the sweetest name I know.” Indeed you dare not choose.

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

One thought on “Yahweh Is the Sweetest Name I Know

  1. What was the inspired word recorded for Jesus? Was it Yeshua or Jesus? Keeping in mind There was no J in Hebrew or Greek or even English till the 14th century. Then it was not the Gee sound but Ya as in mayor as opposed to major. The effort was to recreate the sound of the word Yashua. Consider Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8 in the KJV the word Jesus is used for Joshua the son of Nun. The same name as Yashua/Jesus. Consider Jeremiah 23:26-27. Then find how many times, at least in the KJV, His name, Yaweh or Yashua are changed to where they are not remembered. For centuries Yashua/Jesus was not pronounced as we have been taught to. Insou, the final s or sigma was to identify nom., masc., singular. Not a part of His name. The middle s was was all the Greeks had for the Hebrew letter that is pronounced shh not sss.To illustrate; meet my friend Fred, his name is really Joe, but I think is easier to remember. Yashua means Yaweh is salvation. At the time of the original manuscript what did the word Jesus mean? It did not exist. Insou, then Iesou, remember I=ya and s=sh. Does plenary verbal inspiration allow for this. I am seeking answers not offering one.

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