The Meaning of God and Lord

The Meaning of the Titles God and Lord 
God is Good

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

The Bible begins by introducing us to God. What comes to mind when you hear the word, God? Are you happy? Scared? Indifferent?

What does God mean? According to Noah Webster in his 1828 dictionary, God and good are written the same in the Saxon language. This leads some to infer that God was named, in the English language, from his goodness. God is good.

Adam Clarke wrote, “Many attempts have been made to define the term God: as to the word itself, it is pure Anglo-Saxon, and among our ancestors signified, not only the Divine Being, now commonly designated by the word, but also good; as in their apprehensions it appeared that God and good were correlative terms; and when they thought or spoke of him, they were doubtless led from the word itself to consider him as The Good Being, a fountain of infinite benevolence and beneficence towards his creatures.”

Among cultures that worshiped different gods than the God of the Bible, Webster notes that the name of those Supreme Beings were taken from his, her, or their supremacy and power. Their names were equivalent with a concept that signifies the exertion of force. These gods considered mankind a mere plaything and desired no enjoyable union with them – they just wanted mankind to submit. The gods were presented as requiring from man acts of worship, some of them vile and violent, in order to win the gods’ favor.

The God of the Bible, however, is completely different. He is the creator of mankind and his environment. Both mankind and his environment are the objects of God’s affection. “God hates nothing He has made, and could have made no intelligent creature with the design to make it eternally miserable.”

God is powerful, to be sure. God is just, to be sure. But his power and justice are directed toward the ultimate good of mankind.

John’s gospel reads, “For God so loved the world that he gave…” I didn’t finish that verse for a reason. I want you to ponder this. “For God so loved the world that He gave.” God is love. God is a giver. Love is defined by giving, and God is the greatest giver of all.

I asked you in the beginning what comes to mind when you hear the word, God? I hope you can say with joy, God is Good.

The LORD is the Giver of Bread
“These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens…”

What comes to mind when you hear the word LORD?
Adam Clark writes, “The word יהוה Yehweh is for the first time mentioned here. Wherever this word occurs in the sacred writings we translate it Lord, which word is, through respect and reverence, always printed in capitals. Though our English term Lord does not give the particular meaning of the original word, yet it conveys a strong and noble sense. Lord is a contraction of the Anglo-Saxon, Hlaford, afterwards written Loverd, and lastly Lord, from bread ; hence our word loaf, and ford, to supply, to give out. The word, therefore, implies the giver of bread, i.e., he who deals out all the necessaries of life. Our ancient English noblemen were accustomed to keep a continual open house, where all their vassals, and all strangers, had full liberty to enter and eat as much as they would; and hence those noblemen had the honorable name of lords, i.e., the dispensers of bread. There are about three of the ancient nobility who still keep up this honorable custom, from which the very name of their nobility is derived. We have already seen, Genesis 1:1, with what judgment our Saxon ancestors expressed Deus, the Supreme Being, by the term God; and we see the same judgment consulted by their use of the term Lord to express the word Dominus, by which terms the Vulgate version, which they used, expresses Elohim and Jehovah, which we translate Lord God. God is the good Being, and Lord is the dispenser of bread, the giver of every good and perfect gift, who liberally affords the bread that perisheth to every man, and has amply provided the bread that endures unto eternal life for every human soul. With what propriety then does this word apply to the Lord Jesus, who is emphatically called the bread of life; the bread of God which cometh down from heaven, and which is given for the life of the world! John 6:33, John 6:48, John 6:51. What a pity that this most impressive and instructive meaning of a word in such general use were not more extensively known, and more particularly regarded!”

The Online Etymology Dictionary confirms this meaning: mid-13c., laverd, loverd, from Old English hlaford “master of a household, ruler, feudal lord, superior; husband,” also “God,” translating Latin dominus, Greek kyrios in the New Testament, Hebrew yahweh in the Old (though Old English dryhten was more frequent). Old English hlaford is a contraction of earlier hlafweard, literally “one who guards the loaves,” from hlaf “bread, loaf”.

I asked you in the beginning what comes to mind when you hear the word, LORD? I hope you can say with joy, the LORD is the great giver who gives me everything I need both now and forever.

Let us adore our Good and Giving Creator and Redeemer!

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