In the Bible, hearing your name called is a sign that the LORD knows you, desires for you to know Him, and has a plan for your life.
Names are hugely significant to God. God himself has many names. He changes people’s names. He names the stars (and created the shooting stars). The first job God gave man was to name the animals of the garden. So when scripture mentions God calling someone by name, it’s worth paying attention to. Let’s find out more.
Mentions of People Hearing Their Name Called in the Bible
Arguably the most well-known instance of God calling someone by name involves a young Samuel in the Old Testament. Here, God gets Samuel’s attention by calling him by his name. God does this three times before Samuel responds appropriately. At this moment, Samuel is instated as a prophet – one who would relay God’s Word to His people.
1 Samuel 3: 10-11 ESV And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” Then the LORD said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.” And He was talking about more than just hearing a loud noise or listening to music.
God had a special plan for Samuel and it all started with The LORD calling him by name. Let’s look at some other examples in the Bible.
What Does the Old Testament Say About Hearing Your Name Called?
As Jacob emigrates with all his sons and family to Egypt, God graciously reassures him of His presence and promises to make a great nation through him and his offspring. Addressing him by name indicates a level of intimacy and relationship. God knows Jacob and He has a plan for him. Jacob knows God and he responds in faith to His voice.
Genesis 46:2 ESV And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.”
We see God getting Moses’ attention using similar words (with the added miracle of the burning bush, of course) in this next passage. Unlike Jacob, this was Moses’ first encounter with God. The message is similar though, God knows Moses and God has a plan for him and Moses responds in faith to God’s voice, a voice of the Trinity.
Exodus 3:4 ESV When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
This calling would deepen Moses’ intimacy with God, and carry Moses through his years in exile in the desert.
Later on in the Old Testament, The LORD reminds the nation of Israel of his intimacy with Jacob and His promise fulfilled through him. He extends the same offer of relationship and intimacy to His people by calling them by name, thereby claiming them as His. He knows them and He has a plan for them, will they respond in faith?
Isaiah 43:1 ESV “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”
What Does the New Testament Say About Hearing Your Name Called?
Throughout the gospels we see accounts of Jesus knowing and saying the names of the people around him. He knows them and He has a plan for them. Here are some key examples from scripture.
Jesus corrects Martha’s wrong attitude, calling her by name. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead by calling him by name. After the resurrection, Mary Magdalene recognises Jesus the moment He says her name.
Luke 10:40-42 ESV But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
John 11:43 ESV When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”
John 20:16 ESV Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
In John, we get a clear New Testament picture of Jesus as The Good Shepherd. The Jews would have been familiar with this imagery from Psalm 23. Followers of Christ are His sheep and He knows their names, calls them by name and they respond in faith by following Him and are saved from destruction.
John 10:3-5 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
What About When God Calls Your Name Twice?
There are seven places in The Bible where God calls out someone’s name twice. Why? Well, there’s a special pattern you might not have noticed, let’s take a closer look.
- Abraham in his old age was about to kill Isaac and was stopped (Gen 22:11-13)
- Jacob just found out his beloved son Joseph was alive and was uprooting his family to move to Egypt when God called to him and promised him he’d become a great nation (Gen 46:1-4)
- Moses was a mere shepherd in the wilderness when God called him to lead His people out of Egypt (Ex 3:1-10)
- Samuel was just a boy serving in the temple when God called him to be a prophet (1 Sam 3:1-10)
- Martha had a grumbling heart when God called her to hear his words (Luke 10:38-42)
- Simon Peter, who was about to deny Jesus three times, was reminded that God had a plan for him (Luke 22:31-32)
- Saul was persecuting the early church when God called out to him and revealed himself to Saul (Acts 9)
In each of these instances there was a turning point, a major shift in the individual’s life and it was initiated by God calling out their name twice. Really interesting!
What Does it Mean To Hear Your Name Called by God?
From scripture, we learn three distinct things about God calling people by name.
He Knows You
When God calls you by name, it means He knows you! It signifies an intimacy with him, a relationship, it is incredibly personal. And the creator of the universe DOES know you. (Psalm 139)
He Desires for You to Know Him
When God calls you by name He is trying to get your attention. From what we’ve read in scripture, the best response is to surrender completely with an attitude of “here I am.” He is calling you to himself, will you respond in faith? (Rev 3:20)
He Has a Plan for You
God doesn’t call a person by name for nothing. He has something to say! He has a plan, a promise and a future for you. Perhaps He’s calling you to himself for the first time (salvation) or maybe he wants to remind you of a promise in His Word. This God has always existed, is all-knowing and all-powerful – I would listen to His plan.
When God Calls Your Name
The most beautiful truth in the world is that we hear the voice of God every time we open His Word and read it. You might never audibly hear God’s voice (in fact very few have!) – but, with the help of the Holy Spirit, you can hear it in your heart! You can respond in faith with “here I am.”
Romans 10:17 ESV So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Revelation 3:20 ESV Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
God knows you and God desires for you to know Him. He is calling you by name. Will you hear His voice and open the door?