Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Teach us to pray, part 11: Adonai

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)


Adonai is a word that means "Lord". This is a pleural form of the word "adon" which is used to refer to men who are "lords". (Nowhere did I find that the pleural is used because we serve a triune God, but that is my opinion.) Adonai is sometimes used in Scripture as a substitute word for Yahweh, which we will study tomorrow, and occurs in the Old Testament 434 times. It is used frequently in Isaiah, Ezekiel (where it occurs 200 times), and Daniel. 

Adonai is the word used in that beautiful passage in Isaiah 6 in which Isaiah describes seeing God on his throne.

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord (Adonai) sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple...
Also I heard the voice of the Lord (Adonai), saying, Whom shall I sent, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
                                                                                                       Isaiah 6: 1,8 NASB  
In this country, the concept of "lord" is foreign to us, but in countries with kings and royalty, it is better understood. A "lord" is defined as "someone having power, authority, or influence; a master or ruler." When we acknowledge God as Lord, we are recognizing that He is the owner of heaven and earth and that He is in charge with all authority and all power. It is no surprise then that Adonai was the word that came to mind when Isaiah saw God seated on His throne, in all His glory and power, surrounded by seraphim calling out "Holy, Holy, Holy". 

If we could, even for a moment, see God as He is, enthroned in heaven, we might understand His lofty position and our meager place in comparison. If we could understand Him as Adonai in the way Isaiah did, we, too, might be compelled to serve without reservation, and we would almost certainly join him in responding, 

"Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, 
and I live among a people of unclean lips; 
      For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of  Hosts." 
                                                               Isaiah 6:5 NASB

I found something heartbreaking in the dictionary when I looked up the meaning of the word "Lord", and I am compelled to mention it. The word "lord" is reportedly used as an exclamation to express surprise, worry, or to make an emphasis. When I read that, I knew it was terrible, but true. We, the people of God, have used His name so carelessly that it has made it into the vernacular as nothing more than a casual word of emphasis. We would do well to remember the commandment "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain," (Exodus 20:7) and to be careful with the way we use His name, for it is to be hallowed.

It is one thing for me to say the words "hallowed be thy name" when I pray. It is another thing altogether for me to say "hallowed be thy name" with the way I live, with my speech, with the way I use that name I supposedly hallow. As the people of God, we need to take care to handle His name with respect and honor, just as He has asked us to do. 


What a beautiful name to describe the One who is owner and authority over everything! Let's be sure we treat Him and His name with the honor due Him. Hallowed be His name.