The old saying, sticks and stones may break your bones but names will never harm you, must be the product of a humanistic self-esteem program to give comfort to those who feel sorry for themselves.
Names in the bible are significant. They are meant to describe a person or shape into him a particular characteristic. A birth name that may have family significance. There are nicknames that one picks up along the way because of an event that happened or a play on words that works for that person.
I’ve picked up a plethora of nicknames along the road of life. Polly, Pollywog, P2 (P-squared), Pastor Paul, P.T., Lumpy (my nickname in Haiti because of some lumps on my arms, not because of why you are thinking…).
There are some other names that I’ve been called that are less attractive and uncomfortable. But until resent study of Judges 6, I’ve come to embrace those names with equal affection. In jr. high I picked up the name Arrow Man from some peers who thought I never had fun and lived my life straight as an arrow. They meant it as a put down. This name bothered me at the time (because my sinful flesh didn’t like being noticed as this, but today I am thankful that there was a Christ-likeness awareness to my peers.
In judges 6:32, Gideon is given the name Jerubbaal. If you have not read the story of Gideon recently, you should consider doing so. It will help in understanding the following.
The name Gideon means “one who cuts to pieces”. The name Jerubbaal means “Let Baal contend (or judge) against him.” His birth name is a strong fit when one considers the act the Lord commands him to do in Judges 6. Jerubbaal, the name his father gives him after Gideon destroys (cuts into pieces) the alter he built to Baal. This name was a marking. It was a constant reminder to all that Gideon is the one who destroyed Baal’s alter, yet it was a reminder to Gideon that he obeyed the Lord by destroying the alter his father built to Baal. This name was, in effect, a curse on Gideon from the worshipers of Baal that their god would judged Gideon, but it is a reminder to the reader that Baal is powerless.
A follower, more – a faithful follower, of Christ should expect to be tagged with names along his journey. Some of those names will be given by friends as terms of endearment. Some of those names will be levied on him from enemies with intent to destroy his countenance or integrity. Then again, everywhere Gideon went he would stand as a testimony of the powerless strength of Baal. This name was given to him so that when Baal would avenge himself against Gideon for destroying this alter all would know who Baal was. Baal never touches Gideon (because he’s a non-god). So, instead, this new name reminded all who met Gideon and knew of his new name would know of the powerful strength of God.