12

Lots of Christian Rock songs have a curious metaphor about "Lifting Your Name". Is this a direct reference to the words of St. Paul, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend (Phil 2:10)?

If so, is it said in reference to the previous line, that Jesus died on the cross and because of that God exalted him? I'm thinking since exalted = "lift" and the next line mentions Jesus's Holy Name, so put 'em together and you have a nice exhortation for all believers.

Furthermore, is "Lifting Your Name" a prayer of blessing to God?

13

In history, a name has far more significance than in modern western culture, where it has been relegated to simple a "handle" by which you identify someone. It used to be significant of the person, and their character.

The idea of lifting someone's name is to exalt that person. So when we lift the name of Jesus, we are exalting him.

Consider also, the idea of acting in someone else's name - that is acting with their authority by proxy, as if that other person were actually present. "Open up, in the name of the King!"

Also, consider too, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".

6

One clear example of this is the song "Lord, I lift your name on high", a 7-11 earwig sung in many, many churches.

chorus:

Lord, I lift your name on high; Lord, I love to sing your praises; I'm so glad You're in my life; I'm so glad You came to save us

verse: You came from heaven to earth to show the way; From the earth to the cross my debt to pay; From the cross to the grave; From the grave to the sky; Lord, I lift your name on high

repeat chorus

repeat verse

From: http://www.musicbabylon.com

The main verse proves the point that at least in this highly popular song, a clear parallel to Philippians 2:5-12 is clearly intended. In Philippians, Paul describes the trajectory of Jesus as follows:

  • You came from heaven to earth to show the way

    Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

  • From the earth to the cross, my debt to pay

  • From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky

    And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

  • Lord, I lift your name on high

    Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

It should also be understood that Jesus himself often referred to Himself as needing to be "lifted up" on the cross. In John 3:14, He says:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up

In that instance, (recorded in Numbers 21) the Children of Israel had complained against God, and God sent snakes to bite and destroy them. They cry out, and Moses is instructed to fashion a bronze serpent, put it on a stick, and "lift it up" in the center of the camp. When people lift up their eyes to this serpent, they are healed. As one might expect, this became very, very popular. Lifting up was clearly an exaltation.


Interestingly, in the days of King Hezekiah, this same symbol, which had been lifted up, had itself become so exalted, that the King realized it was nothing more than an idol. As such, he had it torn down, in order to comply with the prohibition on idols.

5
+75

I have often associated this phrase with Jesus' comment that "if I be lifted up I will draw all men unto Me" in association with His crucifixion. This is somewhat evidenced by the usage in the song "Lift Jesus Higher" which I have always had trouble singing because it would appear we are calling on ourselves to crucify Him. Maybe I'm just off in my hearing of that song.

So the concept of lifting up His name for me has always been closely associated with proclaiming Christ "crucified, the hope of glory."

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. I know the feeling of having words to a song stick in the throat because I don't agree (or perhaps, understand) the theology! I don't know that particular song, but crucifying Christ again doesn't sound like a good thing in Hebrews 6:6. Could it be a metaphor for our sin requiring Jesus to sacrifice Himself? (That might not be a bad question to ask here...) – Jon Ericson Feb 22 '12 at 19:40
4

Although parts of this song likely refer to Philippians 2, in my mind the clearest Biblical source for "Lord I lift your name on high" is Psalm 34:3:

Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
      and let us exalt his name together!

Here the Hebrew translated "exalt" is literally "cause to be high"; "magnify" is literally "cause to be great".* This sort of metonymy wherein his name stands for him — the abstract used for the concrete — is very common in Hebrew.

The Philippians passage doesn't do quite the same thing: the name is bestowed, and at the name people bow. The former is a description of what one does with an (abstract) name. The latter is a little fuzzier, but one imagines a situation where the name is spoken, and in response people bow. This is again part of how actual (abstract) names are used. This is different from he literary device where "his name" is a sort of stand-in for "the LORD". (This is confirmed by synonymous parallelism in v. 3a and 3b.)

[OP]: Furthermore, is "Lifting Your Name" a prayer of blessing to God?

If one accepts the reference to Psalm 34, its introductory line may be of interest:

I will bless the LORD at all times;
      his praise shall continually be in my mouth.


*These are well translated by magnify and exalt. English prefers to use different lexemes to express causality whereas the Hebrew verbal system has a mechanism to modify a single verb to express either be high or cause to be high. As the latter is clumsy English, such connections are generally lost in translation.

  • There's one song I heard on the radio recently with the lyric "I will bow my life" that one doesn't make a ton of sense to me. – Peter Turner Aug 18 '16 at 15:00
  • FWIW (probably not a lot), the Hebrew nephesh, sometimes glossed "soul", can mean "life" in some contexts but is also used as a reflexive personal pronoun ("oneself"). "Bowing" is an inherently reflexive activity, so it's conceivable for it to take the object naphshı̂ ( = my nephesh ~"myself"), although the common Hebrew word for "bow" is reflexive in form and doesn't allow an external object, and translating that usage as "life" wouldn't be great English IMO. – Susan Aug 18 '16 at 15:13
3

As a songwriter myself, I am pretty certain the phraseology of "Lifting Your Name" is more a reference to the Psalms...which have been sung in various ways all through church history. There are numerous references by David and the psalmists to "Lifting Your Name...Lifting You Up...Exalting Your Name...Exalting You...Praising Your Name...Praising You" All of these are different poetic ways of saying the same thing...

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.