In the Holy Word of God, we see a vital trend of supreme importance. And that’s the fact the names of people are revelatory as to what God thinks of them. In this same vein we also see the name of God used in multiple ways.
None may be as significant as the terms He uses most often to describe Himself: LORD and Lord. What do they mean, and what is the difference?
In the Old Covenant, the capitalized word LORD is rendered as His proper name, the name He most frequently used to identify Himself. And that transliterated English word is YHVH, also known as an unpronounceable tetragrammaton (“consisting of four letters”).
This name of the living God is used 6,823 times in the OT. This includes over 300 uses of the word GOD too.
This proper name of God basically means the Covenant Keeper, and The Name.
When the Hebrews came to the name YHVH, they refused to pronounce it due to the holy awe they had for God. So they substituted the deity name Adonai (Lord) which emphasizes His sovereignty, i.e. the complete and utter control of all things in the world He created. Adonai closely corresponds to the word kurios (Lord) in the New Testament.
When speaking this complete name to be honorable, the Hebrews used only the vowels of Adonai and the consonants of YHVH. This gives the transliteration “Yahweh, as we in the English speaking world have come to know it.
Here’s a spot where both are used.
Psalm 71:5 For You are my hope; O Lord (Adonai) GOD (Yahweh), You are my confidence from my youth.
The first use of Yahweh in Genesis occurs after many uses of small “o” God in the first chapter, which is translated from elohim, or god. As an aside, the Bible distinguishes later on from a generic elohim, or god, to the Most High God: El Elohim. The word “el” translates as God in proper names such as Nathaniel, Gabriel, and Daniel.
Genesis 2:4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD (Yahweh) God (Elohim) made earth and heaven.
The Complete Biblical Library (CBL) dictionary puts it like this.
(Yahweh) is his redemptive, covenant-keeping name, called the Name (Lev. 24:11,16) and “this glorious and awesome name” (Deut. 28:58).
Moses was told that God’s proper name was “I AM,” or better translated “I will be.” This was used to explain His redemptive, covenant keeping name of Yahweh.
The CBL continues to explain.
Thus, (I AM) has the meaning: “I will show you who and what I am by who and what I will be to you, for I will be with you.”
Much later, some European scholars wrote JHVH. This evolved into Jehovah.
See the other individual names of God here.
See the complete listing of the 365 names of God here.
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Your friend and brother in fighting the good fight,
Saints, we’re one day closer to Home, and Him! Love Him wholeheartedly!
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Marc White, Director, Walk Worthy Ministries, www.WalkWorthy.org