January 22, 2019
And the Lord said to me, “Name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. For before the boy knows how to say ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria.”
From Our “Here”…
“A Boy Named Sue,” Johnny Cash’s 1969 country music hit, tells in hard-knuckle detail the story of a boy given the unlikely name. His dad burdened him with the moniker in order to toughen him, and it worked. When the son finally catches up with his father in a barroom brawl, the dad has this to say:
“Son, this world is rough
And if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta be tough
And I knew I wouldn’t be there to help ya along.
So I give ya that name and I said goodbye
I knew you’d have to get tough or die
And it’s the name that helped to make you strong.”
Shel Silverstein wrote the song, almost certainly without the prophet Isaiah in mind. But if ever a son had to face a hostile world with a strange name, it was Isaiah’s boy.
God told the prophet to name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (Isaiah 8:1-4) — roughly translated “quick to plunder, swift to the spoil.” The name called attention to impending conquest and ruin at the hands of the Assyrians. Not a popular concept. Little “Maher” grew up with the equivalent of an eighth-century B.C. “kick me” sign hung around his neck.
He wasn’t alone. His older brother was Shear-Jashub, “a remnant will return.”
Desolation was on the way, and all but a few folks would be wiped out or exiled. Imagine the fun those Isaiah boys had on the playground.
But one detail of this story must remain in focus — Isaiah acted in complete obedience to God. His sons’ names were integral to God’s plans for His chosen people. The brothers played tiny but key roles in a much bigger picture.
…To God’s “There”
Names today rarely carry more significance than the memory of a favorite relative. But our children are destined to play key roles in God’s big picture — if we will give them the foundation they need. Whether they go through life as “Bob,” “Kent” or “Sue” (only daughters here, please), they should all be known as “followers of Christ.”
That identity will earn them some licks in an ungodly world. But parents who follow Isaiah’s example and help their sons and daughters become spiritually resilient can count on God to accomplish great things in their children’s lives. Nurtured in a godly home, those kids might even make it to the ends of the earth to proclaim the most wonderful Name of all.
Making the Leap
To fully identify with Christ is a costly commitment. Jesus said the world would hate His followers because it first hated Him (John 15:18). But fully identifying with Christ is really the only option for the believer. Jesus expects such commitment on the home front and wherever He may lead obedient Christians to share the hope of the gospel.