Some lists are normal and humdrum.  Some lists are awe-inspiring – visiting the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in DC gave me a staggering view of the immensity of that war.

In 2 Samuel 5:13-16, there’s a list of the names of King David’s children.  At first glance, it falls into the first category: it’s a list of his kids.  Solomon’s on there, of course, and some other ones.  It can slip by without much notice, but it shouldn’t.

After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him. These are the names of the children born to him there: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet.

Eleven kids – he was productive.  Let’s look a little deeper.

The most famous one in the list is Solomon – the wisest man who ever lived.  He took over kingship of Israel from his dad.  It’s easy to forget that Solomon’s mom was Bathsheba, whose husband David murdered so their affair wouldn’t be discovered.  Solomon was conceived after David and Bathsheba were married.  Their first son, conceived out of wedlock, died soon after birth.

That son died even though David prayed to God for his life.

Wait – this murdering adulterer prayed to God??  Yes, he did, sincerely, and God heard him.  David had been called to accountability by the prophet Nathan (see 2 Sam 12) through the means of a story.  You’ve probably heard it – the poor man who has a little ewe lamb, taken away by the rich man who’s not content with all he has.  After David’s ire is raised, Nathan drops the bomb: David, you’re the thieving rich man.

What makes it even more devastating to David is that this piece of truth is delivered by a man who was probably a friend, as well as a prophet of the Lord.  David had named his previous son Nathan.

After Solomon (whose name is based on a word that means pay, repay, or fully pay) came Ibhar (He chooses), Elishua (God is salvation), Nepheg (uncertain origin), and Japhia (To shine forth, to send out beams).

Then David rounded out his naming of his sons with three God-specific names: Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet.  The first means “God has heard”.  The second means “God knows”, and the last means “God is deliverance”.

David messed up his life, multiple times, but he came on strong at the end.

My minister has named his children Daniel and Grace – names chosen with an eye to the Bible and to God’s mercy.  There’s power in a name, and surprising truth in an every-day list of names.

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