(My previous post – down below this one – tells about how we found out about if we were getting a boy or a girl).
Some of you might have already heard our name ideas for Baby Agnew. We had picked out some good boy names and some good girl names, but we were more constant about the name for a boy due to what it meant and also the positive response that we kept getting concerning the name from a lot of people. Now, that we know what we are getting in May, its a lot easier to call him “he” versus “it.” At this point, seven hours removed from the ultrasound, we are planning on calling our son (that’s amazing to say that) – Obadiah Benjamin Agnew.
Let me give you a little history how we came to Obadiah Benjamin.
I was sitting in Hebrew class over a year ago when my professor began explaining the signficance of biblical names from the Old Testament. If you didn’t know, Obadiah is the 31st book in the Old Testament. Many people have heard that name and not known where it comes from. He’s fourth in the list of the twelve minor prophets and it is the shortest book in the Old Testament with the length of one chapter containing only twenty-one verses. The book is a stern warning from God concerning the results for people who do not humble themselves under the mighty hand of God.
When Amanda has told some of her children at school the name, some of the responses have been: “Oohh, that sounds majestic….that sounds tribal….Mrs. Agnew, I know where that name comes from – it’s in the Bible, isn’t it?”
So before you think we are weird for picking Obadiah, realize its biblical. In the Old Testament, whenever you have a name that ends in an “iah” sound, you are saying the covenantal name of God for the Israelites of the Old Testament. When Moses encountered the burning bush, and he asked the voice “whom shall I tell them sent me?” (asking what was God’s name since Egypt had tons of gods), God replied, “I AM WHO I AM.” Those words actually come out to compose the name “Yahweh.” So if you look in your Bible, and read a passage like Psalm 16, notice the different ways God is referred to:
1 Keep me safe, O God,
for in you I take refuge.
2 I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
When”God” is used, the writer uses the common “Elohim.” “El” meant God in a general sense. “Elohim” showed the bigness of God. But do you notice in verse two, they capitalize the word “LORD”? It’s because that is speaking of Yahweh, or I AM WHO I AM. That name is not a general use of “God,” it is distinguishing the God of the Bible from any other god in the world. Notice that the second “Lord” is not capitalized. It’s a simple “master.” But they would use the name Yahweh to distinguish the one true God.
So names like Nathaniel means “Gift from God.” Elijah means “The LORD is my God.” Micah means “Who is like the LORD?” Michael means “Who is like the LORD God?” (notice both the “iah” and the “el” in that one?).
So the name, Obadiah, means Worshipper of the LORD. Or it means the Servant of the LORD.
Obadiah looks like this:
Remember, you read it from right to left. When I heard that name, my heart was drawn to it. I don’t look down on people who call a child “Sam” because they like the sound of it. I think using a family name like “William” is a beautiful thing. But for Amanda and I, we thought it would be the most amazing statement to our son that when he asks why we named him Obadiah, we can tell him, “Son, because the one true God is so amazing and loves you so much, that your life has no higher calling than to offer the LORD worship in everything that you do. Obadiah, your job on this earth is to worship the LORD. He needs to be the center of your life and he is worthy of all praise.”
So while it is not the most popular name, I think it is the most important thing we can teach our son over and over in life – it’s all about God. And your job is to worship him and serve him with your whole life.
Benjamin is my middle name and we are planning on that being Obadiah’s middle name as well. It also has biblical roots as one of the sons of Jacob (renamed Israel), so he is one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Since Benjamin was the second and final son of Rachel, his name means, “son of the right hand.” So, it has a great biblical meaning and also brings in the family aspect into his name.
While this next idea is secondary, it is still pretty neat. Amanda and I have even started to shorten Obadiah or use the initials to call him “O. B.” or “Obi” for short. It sounds really fun, has a deep spiritual meaning of the son of the right hand serving as a worshipper of the LORD, and also utilizes my love for Star Wars. The Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (or BEN Kenobi) was a wise and powerful hero. Now, that’s a secondary reason, but what boy doesn’t want a name from Star Wars?
I think the deep meaning of the name honestly was one of the reasons we felt like we were having a boy. We both love that name so much because it meant so much. My job at North Side is to lead people to truly worship God. We want people to grow in their intimacy with God. My job is to help people see that life is all about a lifestyle of worship. And I think it is a great legacy to leave a child.
So, we’re planning on naming our boy Obadiah. My son. My pride and joy.
I’m the paterfamilias.
It’s 11:20 and I am watching the video of him moving again. And just reminding myself of when I heard his heartbeat. I sang this to Amanda’s belly tonight, “you and I are made to worship, you and I are called to love.” Lil’ Obadiah, even in his mother’s womb, is made to worship Jesus. Obadiah won’t be the center of the universe, but we want to show him Who is.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.