It’s time to metaphorically set pen to paper for the fifth time and record for our newly born son why he has the name he does, and what the promise and the warning are that are bound up in it. First, though, the vital statistics:
Name: Etan Zeal Talbott
Born: October 3, 2009 at 4:15am
Length: 21.5 inches
Weight: 7 lbs., 15 oz.
Etan, your mother and I had your middle name figured out first: Zeal. One of the defining characteristics of your pregnancy was your mother suddenly putting her hand on her stomach or giving a little jump as you moved around. Now, all babies move in the womb if they’re healthy, but you moved very often and very strongly. Because of this we wanted to give you a name that reflected the passion of your earliest days, and Zeal seemed to fit it perfectly.
“My zeal has consumed me,
Because my enemies have forgotten Your words.” — Psalm 119:139
Now, both your mother and I thought you were going to be a girl, so we hadn’t picked out a boy first name when you were born. I laughed out loud when you came out (I was right there!) and I saw that you were most definitely not a girl, and from now on I can tell you that we’ll always have both a boy and a girl name selected! In the two days after you were born, your mother and I spent a lot of time with the baby name books, and I came across the name Etan, a variant of Ethan, and loved both the name and the meaning – “strong, firm one”.
When the pieces are put together, the meaning of your name is “firm, strong passion”. Lest you think that it’s all about brute strength, know that in Scripture Ethan the Ezrahite was renowned not for his physical prowess but for his wisdom, said to be second only to Solomon. So I challenge you as you learn to speak and articulate and someday read these words to be a man of strong, passionate ideas; a man who is known for force of reason and not simply for force.
The warning in your names is in the two of them apart. Strength without passion lumbers along and is not touched, but also does not touch the world. Barak was such a man – strong and mighty, but with so little drive that he refused the privilege of leading the Israelites into battle. On the other hand, passion without strong resolve is flighty and prone to be controlled by the lust of the moment. The so-called “strongest man”, Samson, was an example of untempered passion – so much drive and potential, all wasted because he couldn’t rein in his lusts.
The promise of your name is in the two parts together: if you will live a passionate life while tempering that passion with strength and endurance, you will be an unstoppable force in whatever you put your hand to. The world needs more strong, passionate men, and I challenge you to grow into your name and to be such a man. Emulate David – zealous and passionate for God, and yet strong and articulate in his life and worship. Of course there’s another warning in David: beware wandering on your rooftop when you should be out in the battle.
The fun thing about writing this is that your eldest brother is almost old enough to read his name post for the first time, and it makes me all the more expectant of you reading yours in a few years. I love you, my little Etan Zeal, and I know that by God’s grace you will grow into your name in ways that I can’t even guess at now.
“The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.” — Numbers 6:24
P.S. Photography by the amazing Joy of Joy Lyn Photography. She also did our wedding, and we highly recommend her for any fine photography you want to have done!