He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
- Psalm 147.4, 5
The King who arranged the fleeting multitude/ of circuits and movements of the stars;/ even as he assembled them in divisions/ he named them with their names.
- Anonymous, Saltair na Rann (Irish, 9th century)
Names are very important to God. His earliest instructions to Adam involved naming the animals. God often gave people names, or changed their given names to reflect realities more in keeping with His purposes for them. Names matter to God.
It would be most interesting, I think, to discover the names God has given to each star. If I go outside tonight, open up my SkEye app, and point my camera to the heavens, I can get the name men have assigned to the heavenly bodies within my sight line.
But those are just the names men have given, and it's not always clear why any particular name was chosen for this or that hevenly light. Sometimes these names seem intended merely to honor the one who first identified a particular unnamed heavenly body.
We know that God invests great significance in names. He has called each one of us by our own names, and we are His. He cherishes us as we are named, but He has other names for us that should help us to understand His good and perfect will for our lives.
We are Christians, for example - those who are known by our close association with the risen Christ. We are saints, set apart fom worldly entanglements to seek, know, enjoy, and serve the living God. We are priests and kings, citizens, members of Christ's Body, living stones in the Spirit's household of faith, apostles sent to the world as Jesus Himself was sent.
All these names - titles - are fraught with rich meaning, because God has assigned them to us. How can we realize the fullness of abundant life if we do not understand the names and titles by which the Lord calls and addresses us?
God Who named the stars has also assigned names to us. The names and titles He has given us are as much about Him as about us, for they help us to understand who we are in Him and what we have been called to in this world. "Know Thyself" Socrates advised.
"Know your name; know your title; know your place in the divine economy." That, I suspect, is what the Lord would say to us instead.
T. M. Moore, Principal