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After God made all of the animals, he brought them to Adam to name. Pretty amazing, right? To get to see all of the animals that God had made and to get to name them too.

Sometimes we can learn about an animal just by knowing its name. Imagine seeing a strange bushy-tailed animal with a long, skinny, snout and a long tongue. As soon as you find out that it is called an anteater, you know something about it! Names might tell us what an animal looks like or where it lives, what it eats, or even what it sounds like.

Plum Pudd’n, Squawk, and the Peabody-bird

The American bittern is a marsh bird that hides by standing in the cattails with its bill pointing toward the sky. People used to call this bird by lots of different names: stake-driver, thunder-pump, plum pudd’n, dunk-a-doo, barrel-maker, bog-pumper, mire-drum, bog hen, sun-gazer. Most of these names are from its loud, low pump-er-lunk call, which can be heard up to half a mile away!

The Canada goose was once called “honker,” and the black-crowned night heron was the “quawk” or “squawk.” White- and red-breasted nuthatches were called “big quank” and “little quank.”

Some people called the white-throated sparrow the peabody-bird, not because it has a tiny body but because it sings “Po-or Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody.

Imperfect Names

As we learn more about God’s world, the names that people have given some birds now seem silly.

The name “goatsucker” was given to birds like the whip-poor-will and nighthawk. These birds have big mouths and were commonly seen flying around over pastures, so people thought that they drank milk from the goats grazing there. Really, they were eating the insects that were attracted by the goats.

Hummingbirds and swifts belong to a group of birds known as Apodiformes, which means “without feet.” In fact, these birds do have feet, although they are small.

The names that we give to animals are never going to be perfect. Even when we think we know all about them, there’s more to them that only God knows.

Luckily, God knows us better than we know hummingbirds. In Isaiah 43, God says, “I have called you by name, and you are mine.” And Jesus, who calls himself the Good Shepherd, says this: “I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” If you believe in Jesus, then you are one of his sheep, and he calls you by name. God, the Creator of the universe, knows you and calls you by name!

Names in the Bible

Many of the names in the Bible are from the Hebrew or Greek languages and have meanings that you might not know. Look up these verses to match the names with their meanings.
Genesis 3:20               Eve                 heard by God
Genesis 17:5               Abraham         rock
1 Samuel 1:20            Samuel           the LORD saves
John 1:42                    Peter              father of many           
Matthew 1:21              Jesus              living

With a parent’s permission, visit www.behindthename.com to find out what your own name means!

Pancake Names

Here’s a way to make your name—and eat it too! With an adult’s help, use pancake mix or your own recipe to make the batter. Carefully pour the batter into letter shapes in a greased pan to cook. Make enough letters to spell your whole name, or make the first letter of everyone in your family’s name!

Name of God

I AM is the special name that God called himself to Moses at the burning bush. Many years later, Jesus said, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58). Jesus was telling us that he was and is God. In the book of John, Jesus uses seven “I am” statements to describe himself:

  1. I am the bread of life.
  2. I am the light of the world.
  3. I am the gate for the sheep.
  4. I am the good shepherd.
  5. I am the resurrection and the life.
  6. I am the way and the truth and the life.
  7. I am the true vine.

Word Search

All through the Bible we are given many names and titles for Jesus. From them, we can learn more about who Jesus is and our relationship with him. Can you find all of these names hidden in this word search?

R D K N M Q Q U S M Y D O O N F O R
W O L I G M I T I I O G B L A V U E
C D L U N N G G V G M I L O M T R H
F L T E I G H O F Y U S E R F I D T
W W E Q S T O O S H G C S D O U Z A
O Z F U Y N N F G A A Q Z O N P J F
R X R G N O U O K E V R S F O L B G
D E O P S A Y O P I A I V L S D Y N
M D L O Y V M F C P N V O O N M V I
R O S H G D O M O L M G Q R B J G T
A K H Y Q E O C I E U L S D A F I S
R K D T C X G Z Z F W F H S E M M A
C A M N M E S S I A H M R I O J N L
I Q I A L P H A A N D O M E G A G R
S R Q J K L D W C G L F N V D I V E
P Z Q R Z J H L L U S D Q R C N H V
D O G F O B M A L T U H G M W N O E
L O E H K Y M M S W K R M R S X S W

Wonderful Counselor
Mighty God
Everlasting Father
Prince of Peace
Lamb of God
Immanuel
Alpha and Omega
Son of Man
Son of God
Savior

About the Author

Rachel Lancashire is a nursery worker (plants, not kids) and freelance writer with an educational background in wildlife. She grew up in the CRC but currently attends Gilmour Memorial Baptist Church in Selwyn, Ont.