Day 36: El Emet

O Lord, I have come to you for protection;
    don’t let me be disgraced.
    Save me, for you do what is right.
 Turn your ear to listen to me;
    rescue me quickly.
Be my rock of protection,
    a fortress where I will be safe.
 You are my rock and my fortress.
    For the honor of your name, lead me out of this danger.
 Pull me from the trap my enemies set for me,
    for I find protection in you alone.
 I entrust my spirit into your hand.
    Rescue me, Lord, for you are [El Emet].

Psalm 31:1-5

El Emet: God of Truth (or The Faithful God)

Truth. Like diamonds. Solid, reflective, eternal. Brilliant in every sense of the word – and unyielding. The thing about truth is that it is; it is what it is, and nothing can change it. Put pressure on a lie, and it will begin to crack; the more pressure you put on the truth, the stronger it gets, and the more obviously truth-like it appears. Someone once said, “Only lies are invented; truth exists.” There is something so secure about truth. Stand upon it, and you will have no fear. Possess it, and you will call it a beautiful thing.

The problem with truth is that it is like diamonds; solid, reflective, eternal – unyielding. Rest upon it for too long and you will find yourself without an ache-free inch of your soul. You will feel like you have slept on a rock – because you have. There is no give to truth; it does not bend, so we must. It will never yield to our strength. Abiding in it, then, can be – is – painful. For this reason, so many have abandoned it. We must not do so. We must abide in El Emet, the God of truth, the God we can rely on, the Faithful and Truthful God!

I cannot condemn those who have lost heart. I would condemn myself, for the times I have, and the times I have yearned to do so. I do not condemn us, but I implore us to hold on. Gentler places will beckon, places that will mold themselves around us and slowly envelope and entomb us, and we will have no desire to resist, but we must resist. Truth is painful. Lies are lethal. 

Some people say it is hard to know truth from lies. Sometimes I have found this to be so, but not because they look so much the same. No, the fault does not lie in the objects being viewed; it lies in the heart from which they are viewed. To speak truthfully, I have almost never not known the truth, but I have often not believed it. As I said, lies crack under pressure; truth does not. It is easy to tell the truth from a lie if I want to – but do I want to? Truth is painful. This is why we sometimes favor lies – even when we know what they are.

Why do we want the truth? As I said at first, truth is secure, and creatures love security. Truth is courage, and confidence, and strength. Truth is power and above all, freedom! – but truth is not enough. 

As I have said, rest on truth and you will find yourself sleeping on a rock. That rock needs a cushion! Love is truth’s cushion. Love absorbs when truth deflects. Truth is painful, but it is made bearable by love. Love cannot be trusted without truth beneath it, however; love is only as good as its foundation. Founded on truth, love is eternal, secure, strengthening. Founded on lies, love, too, is lethal.   

The lies of this world – however loving or hateful – are growing more aggressive, demanding I believe them, thrusting themselves in my face and insisting I judge them true. I have only one defense against them, and it is the rarest and most valuable thing in the world; I have El Emet, the God of Truth. Now more than ever, it is His judgment that I must choose, for it is the only reliable, the only true. Praise El Emet for not leaving me in this mucky mess of lies!!

Day 35: El Kahvohd

The voice of the Lord echoes above the sea.
    [El Kahvohd] thunders.
    The Lord thunders over the mighty sea.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord splits the mighty cedars;
    the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon’s mountains skip like a calf;
    he makes Mount Hermon[a] leap like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord strikes
    with bolts of lightning.
The voice of the Lord makes the barren wilderness quake;
    the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists mighty oaks[b]
    and strips the forests bare.
In his Temple everyone shouts, “Glory!”

Psalm 29:3-9

El Kahvohd: The God of Glory

People talk so often of God as being that “still small Voice,” and He certainly often chooses to speak to us that way. But this God is not restrained to being a quiet God; this God can shake the very earth with nothing more than His voice!

Sometimes I think we (and maybe this is only the American church) have forgotten about El Kahvohd. Sometimes our irreverence, our lack of worship in His presence, our flippancy makes me think so. If we heard Him thunder, would we remember? Would we stand in His temple crying out, “Glory!” like the rest?

Day 34: Yahweh Ori

[Yahweh Ori] and my salvation—
    so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
    so why should I tremble?
When evil people come to devour me,
    when my enemies and foes attack me,
    they will stumble and fall.
Though a mighty army surrounds me,
    my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
    I will remain confident.

Psalm 27:1-3

Yahweh Ori: The Lord is My Light

I think in our modern world in which we can simply flip a switch and dispel darkness, we easily forget what a big deal light is. A few days of a power outage might remind us how impenetrable darkness can be, but then the lights come back on and we forget again. But for all human history except the last 100ish years, darkness was a more formidable thing.

Of all our five senses, we rely on our sight the most; darkness is weakness, vulnerability, and that is why it makes us feel afraid. It is not silly to be afraid of the dark, though many of us think it is because we associate it with childhood. But here, the psalmist gives his reason for not fearing the dark, and he doesn’t say it’s because it’s a ridiculous fear. He says because the Lord his Light is with him, he is not afraid.

When I was a child, we went camping a lot. I remember a late night bathroom trip one night particularly vividly; I remember it because the path was thin, the night was dark, and we took only one flashlight. I wanted to carry it myself because I felt safest that way, but as I was easily distracted and tended to let the light wander off the path into the woods around us, my father politely declined my request and carried the light himself. I remember this night because I did get distracted and let my eyes wander, and when I did, my father got ahead of me with the light; I remember I could see the light bobbing several paces in front of me, but I could no longer see the path just beneath my feet. I could hear the sounds behind me and feel the dark pushing and throbbing and enclosing, and I ran, blind as I was, toward that one little oval of light. I walked practically on his feet the rest of the way!

That is how I see Yahweh Ori; the closer I stay to Him, the more I can see. With so much darkness in the world, I want to stay pressed up against His very feet!

Day 33: Ysuah

Show me the right path, O Lord;
    point out the road for me to follow.
 Lead me by your truth and teach me,
    for you are [Elohim Ysuah].
    All day long I put my hope in you.
 Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love,
    which you have shown from long ages past.
Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.
    Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,
    for you are merciful, O Lord.

Psalm 25:4-7

Ysuah: Savior and Deliverer

Where does obedience begin? It begins here, in Elohim Ysuah. It’s this relationship that too many minds and religions invert; so many of us believe we must obey to be saved, but this God says you must be saved to obey. Because I put my hope in You, the God who saves me, this says, show me the right path. Not because I’ve found the right path show me Yourself. Not because of what I’ve done – but because of Who You are. Because He is Elohim Ysuah, He who saves us Himself.

(I’m not really sure where the spelling Ysuah came from. The Hebrew interlinear I looked this up in spelled it isho-i, which from what I understand is where the name ieusho or Joshua comes from, which is also the same name we translate Jesus – which I have also seen Romanized as Yeshua. As far as I can tell, isho-i is spelled very differently in Hebrew than ieusho, so despite their similar Romanizations and meanings, these are not quite the same name.)

Day 32: Yahweh Gibbor Milchamah

Open up, ancient gates!
    Open up, ancient doors,
    and let the King of glory enter.
 Who is the King of glory?
    The Lord, strong and mighty;
    [Yahweh Gibbor Milchamah].
 Open up, ancient gates!
    Open up, ancient doors,
    and let the King of glory enter.
 Who is the King of glory?
    The Lord of Heaven’s Armies—
    he is the King of glory. 

Psalm 24:7-10

Yahweh Gibbor Milchamah: The Lord Mighty (or Invincible) in Battle

David, who wrote this Psalm, knew the need of a God who is mighty in battle. He knew what it was to fight someone he could not beat, and he knew what it meant to utterly rely on the strength of someone he could not see.

My battles are not like David’s; I don’t look my enemies in the face as they openly mock my God, and they aren’t wielding spears as big as I am or laughing in my face for trying to fight them. They are quietly resistant to my faith, quietly slipping between me and the Lord I serve, quietly standing in the way. Sometimes I forget their strength and my weakness, and I forget from where my strength comes from; I try to fight them myself, and I lose when I do. The Lord is mighty in those quiet battles, too, though, and He conquers swiftly and quietly, too.

May I never forget to worship Yahweh Gibbor Milchamah for winning my battles, however quiet they might have been.

Day 31: Yahweh Rohi

[Yahweh Rohi];
    I have all that I need.
 He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
 Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
 You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Psalm 23

Yahweh Rohi: The Lord Is My Shepherd

This name of God is one that never loses its magnetism. It is the most profound argument against the disinterested God; this Shepherd, this Yahweh Rohi, is not some distant Being who created everything and just stepped aside and let it run its course. There are those who believe that if God made the world, He couldn’t have cared too much about it to let it turn out like this. I understand the place of hurt where this idea comes from too well to belittle it; I hope and pray healing for those hearts that are there today.

But God is not and never has been a disinterested God. Though we marred His world with our sin, He is right here in the thick of our lives making sure we get where we need to go to have all that we need. He is there to find us when we wander off, clean up the messes we leave where we shouldn’t, lead us to the resources that meet our needs, and sheer off our extra weight when it pushes us down. He calls to us and leads us through chaotic places by just the sound of His voice, and wherever He goes, we know we are safe. He is the One who knows us all by name.

He is Yahweh Rohi, my Shepherd Lord, my Caretaker.

Day 30: El Nekamoth

The Lord lives! Praise to my Rock!
    May the God of my salvation be exalted!
He is [El Nekamoth];
    he subdues the nations under me
     and rescues me from my enemies.
You hold me safe beyond the reach of my enemies;
    you save me from violent opponents.
For this, O Lord, I will praise you among the nations;
    I will sing praises to your name.

Psalm 18:46-49

El Nekamoth: God Who Avenges Me (God Who Pays Back Those Who Harm Me)

This might be the characteristic of God that scares me the most – but unlike most fears, it scares me to Him, not away from Him.

Our immediate reaction when we think of payback for those who harm us is just gloating, is it not? “HaHA! Finally they’re gettin’ theirs! Take THAT!” Isn’t that the victory cry of the wronged who have been defended?

But it doesn’t take long for a nagging voice in the back of my head to start bringing things up… does He not defend them, too? The people I have wronged – is He not their just Defender? Will He not pay me back justly, as He has paid them back?

This is when my flight instinct rears. I cannot overpower Him, so I must run – but where? To the only One Who can keep me safe from Him –

Him.

His mercy is my only hope against His vengeance. His perfect sacrifice the only stand-in that can absorb the fullness of His wrath for what I’ve done. El Nekamoth must also be Elohim Chaseddi, or I and everyone are finished.

And I need both of them – both the God of Vengeance and the God of Mercy – because where I have been the victim, I know El Nekamoth is right, and where I have been the sinner, I know Elohim Chaseddi is necessary.

So yes, I fear El Nekamoth. I fear Him enough to flee to Him. Where else can I go?

Day 29: Yahweh Tsuri

You will keep in perfect peace
    all who trust in you,
    all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
    for [Yahweh Tsuri].

Isaiah 26:3-4

Yahweh Tsuri: The Lord my Eternal Rock

I struggled to keep the passage short for this one because all of Isaiah 26 really should be included. What a beautiful song! When I sat down to study the names of God, I meant to do one each day and be finished by Christmas, and yet here it is, New Years’ Day, and I am only on day 29 of 60. <sigh>. And yet I can’t help feeling blessed to be here, on the first day of this new year, reading and rereading these verses that say trust in Yahweh Tsuri!

He knows what I am, He knows what obstacles to my faith I’ve faced this year, and He knows with what effort we’ve overcome them. He knows how tired I am, tired of picking myself back up with fresh blood and bruises and putting my foot forward again anyway. But He’s also an awful lot taller than me and sees where we’re going; He’s more traveled than I am and He’s been there many, many times before. So He leans down and whispers, “Trust Me, turn your thoughts to Me, keep doing what I tell you to,” and He fills me with strength I didn’t have before.

So here it is, one more breath, one more whisper, one more footstep, one more beginning. One more year with Yahweh Tsuri, the Rock who keeps me in perfect peace!

Day 28: Yahweh Medsudhathi

[Yahweh] is my rock, my [Metsudhathi], and my savior;
    my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
    and my place of safety.

Psalm 18:2

Yahweh Metsudhathi: The Lord my High Tower (Fortress)

I was just talking about safe places with my brother a few days ago. He recently moved his family here from overseas, including his three-year-old daughter, who is, naturally, struggling with the change. He was telling me about how clingy she’s been lately to him specifically; though her mother is there too, she wants him. So I told him what I have always seen – kids run to their mothers when they are hurt or sad. But when they are scared? Scared children want big strong daddy. He makes them feel safe.

I love this name of God because there are days I want to do nothing more than hide. I have, at times, run frantically away and hidden in corners and trees and bathroom stalls and shrunk against walls trying not to be seen. Other times I have pushed up my chin and faced it while my insides clawed frantically for the exit. It’s on those days, all of those days, this God wraps Himself around me and becomes a kind of safety better than hiding would be; He is the power that saves me, my rock, my Yahweh Metsudhathi, the only hiding place I need.

Day 27: Yahweh Mephalti

[Yahweh] is my rock, my fortress, and my [Mephalti]; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.

Psalm 18:2

Yahweh Mephalti: The Lord My Deliverer (or My Rescuer)

When I began to study fiction writing, the words “character” and “plot” came up together a lot. “Character-driven plot” and “Plot reveals character” are two phrases circulating in my mind tonight. The popular theory goes that the events and circumstances of a character’s journey serve to expose who they are, and in this way I find fiction a lot like life.

One thing the circumstances of my life have certainly exposed in me: I do not like being rescued. It’s embarrassing, inconvenient, and all around frazzling to need to be rescued. I feel like such a weight sometimes, such a burden to my rescuers. Because of this, I ask for help as rarely as I can.

I’ve brought that reluctance to be rescued, that heavy, inconvenient feeling into my relationship with God, and even before Him I try to pretend I have it all together, like He doesn’t have to go out of His way to help me! I don’t want to be a burden, after all.

This bit of my character in fiction would be called a “flaw,” maybe even my “fatal flaw.” The truth is God does not feel burdened by my need to be rescued. Rescuer is His very name; when He rescues me, He is merely being Himself. My weight is nothing to His strength, and my helplessness does not surprise or offend Him. He is waiting, always waiting for me to call Yahweh Mephalti. My Deliverer.