v. 9 “...hallowed be your name,”
In the Ten Commandments, the Lord warns his people to regard him with careful reverence, not abusing or blaspheming his name (Exodus 20:7). The Jews took this so seriously that they would omit the vowels when spelling God’s name in order to guard against any possible misuse.
In Eastern culture, your name wasn’t just what you were called; your name was who you were. Your name embodied your character, your lineage, and your authority. When God gave Adam the responsibility of naming all the animals and birds he had created (Genesis 2:19-20), he was actually giving Adam dominion over their existence. Names had great power and significance.
The Old Testament names for God convey—among other things–his sovereign authority (Yahweh), his might (El Shaddai), his mastery (Adonai), his provision (Jehovah-Jireh), his peace (Jehovah Shalom), and his healing (Jehovah Rapha). These names communicate God’s utter otherness, his consuming glory, and his divine power.
At the outset of his Prayer, Jesus instructs us to “hallow” God’s name. Although hallow isn’t a household word, most modern translations utilize this Old English term because it conveys the idea of “holding holy” or venerating that which is sacred.
To hallow God’s name means to sanctify it (i.e. “set it apart”) as sacred precisely because it is sacred. To do otherwise is to profane it, an act of blasphemy. But when we truly hallow God’s name, we give him the honor and praise he is due. Rather than blaspheme, we worship. [Note that eight of the Ten Commandments are written as prohibitions (i.e. “Thou shalt not….” Just as valuing life and being a faithful spouse are the affirmative opposites of murder and committing adultery, to hallow God’s name is the affirmative opposite of taking his name in vain. ] Jesus commands us to worship the name of his Father. In doing so, we recognize God’s divine character and profound compassion. When we praise his name, we are praising him.
Throughout the book of Psalms, the name of the Lord is hallowed almost 100 times, including:
- Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:1)
- I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High. (Psalm 9:2)
- Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name. (Psalm 18:49)
- May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. (Psalm 20:5)
- Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (Psalm 20:7)
- I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. (Psalm 22:22)
- Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. (Psalm 34:3)
- In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever. (Psalm 44:8)
- And I will hope in your name, for your name is good. (Psalm 52:9)
- I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. (Psalm 63:4)
- Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious. (Psalm 66:2)
- I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. (Psalm 69:30)
- Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. (Psalm 79:9)
- Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord— that you alone are the Most High over all the earth. (Psalm 83:18)
- I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. (Psalm 86:12)
- Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. (Psalm 96:2)
- Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. (Psalm 100:4)
- Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. (Psalm 105:3)
- Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. (Psalm 113:2)
- From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised. (Psalm 113:3)
- Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. (Psalm 115:1)
- Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)
- Your name, Lord, endures forever, your renown, Lord, through all generations. (Psalm 135:13)
- My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever. (Psalm 145:21)
- Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. (Psalm 149:3)
These beautiful Old Testament verses point toward God’s ultimate revelation of himself through his Son (John 14:7-9). Indeed, the apostle Paul writes that–though Jesus was in very nature God–because of Christ’s humble condescension on our behalf:
. . . God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-10).
The Father has now ordained that his Son’s name be treated with the same awe and reverence with which the Son instructs us to hallow his Father’s name. As such, it would be fitting for us to substitute “the name of Jesus” in any of the aforementioned Psalms; for when we are hallowing the name of the Son, we are doing so to the glory of the Father.