Book Review: God’s Names by Sally Michael

A child’s name and the names of family and friends are among the first things we teach a child. Even my youngest grandson could clearly say his name and knew it belonged to him when he was only eighteen months old. Of course, my husband and I were thrilled when he repeated with recognition our names, “Mimi” and “Papi.” Children understand that everyone has a name and that we know who people are by their names.

Author Sally Michael, cofounder of Children Desiring God ministry and a part of the family discipleship program at Bethlehem Baptist Church (John Piper’s church), has given the family one of the most valuable resources I have found. God’s Names (P&R Publishing, 2011) is a “mini-primer on the character of God as revealed by His names,” Michael states in the preface to her book. She explains that the book is to be “an interactive dialogue between adult and child” as they discover God’s character together. Parents are to apply this resource to help them model a belief that we can trust God’s name and that “He is worthy of our love and praise.”

A short but instructive introduction to parents on how to use the book “to present solid truth to their children and to encourage real-life application of the truth” begins this resource. Michael’s book is set apart from others by her desire to help parents go beyond simply teaching God’s names intellectually. She offers assistance in moving toward building a relationship between parent and child, interacting to help a child discover truth instead of simply hearing it, understanding truth and integrating it into “your child’s theological framework,” helping the child relate to God, emphasizing the power of God’s Word, presenting the gospel interspersed throughout the book, and praying for the Holy Spirit to quicken truth to children’s hearts. Following the introduction is a helpful pronunciation guide, from which I learned that I probably have been mispronouncing some of God’s names for years!

After this meaty beginning, there are twenty-six, four-page chapters highlighting a name of God in Scripture or, in some cases, giving a gospel message by applying the names previously discussed to God’s salvation message. Michael covers familiar Old Testament names, such as Elohim, El Shaddai, and Jehovah-Jireh, as well as less familiar ones, such as Jehovah Or. She then moves to New Testament names, such as Lamb of God, Savior, Messiah, Christ, Coming King, and others. Each chapter ends with a “Learning to Trust God” section, with scripture to read, discussion questions, and an activity.

Every Christian parent’s home should contain a copy of God’s Names, in my opinion, to guide them in introducing their early elementary-age children to our wonderful, amazing God Who, I learned, has more than 700 names, titles, and nicknames in the Bible. The $16.95 retail price is a small investment for a valuable resource.

“And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You” (Psalm 9:10, NASB). As Michael says in the preface, “May your name and your children’s names be remembered by the Lord forever.” Amen.