“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” That is perhaps Shakespeare’s most famous quote from his tragic play Romeo and Juliet. Saying that it doesn’t matter that Romeo is from her rival’s house of Montague, Juliet implies that names don’t really matter. All that matters is what something is, not what it’s named. This may be so for a Shakespearean lyrical tale, but Bible names are significant and convey specific lessons and meanings to the events accompanying the naming of the individual.

In Genesis 16, two names are significant for they tell us more about who God is. In naming Hagar’s son “Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’),” God revealed Himself as the God who hears our prayers (Genesis 16:11). In grateful response, Hagar called God El-roi, “the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13) or “the Living One who sees me” (Genesis 16:14). We pray to the all-hearing, all-seeing, ever-present, all-powerful God!

Our God is El-roi (Psalm 33:13-15; Proverbs 15:3), who “watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth” (Psalm 11:4), “and he is the one to whom we are accountable” (Hebrews 4:13). But we don’t need to fear that God sees us. Instead we can take joy in the reality that “the eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

We can rest in God’s amazing presence, for He knows everything (Psalm 139:1-4), is always with us (Psalm 139:5-12), and has limitless power (Psalm 139:13-19). “O Lord, you . . . know everything about me (Psalm 139:1). “I can never get away from your presence!” (Psalm 139:7). Remember that God sees you, loves you, and will always be there for you. He knows you by name.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Romans 5:1-11