Monday, July 9, 2012


"You said princess."
"When she asked what your name meant, you said princess."
"Well, that's what it means."
"But I've never heard you just say princess. You usually explain more."

A good friend of eleven years shared this observation with me two weeks ago. He was referring to what happened at church when I asked for prayer about a guest blog post I had written. And he was right. When the topic of what one's name means comes up, I almost always explain that Sarah is Hebrew for princess, and while I like my name, princess makes you think of pink and frilly girly things, which isn't me.

I give my name explanation a bit more often than most because it's usually in the context of someone asking me what is on my ring. 

It reads in Hebrew:  
שָׂרָה בַת-מֶלֶךְ  

which is pronounced Sarah BatMelek (which is where the title of my blog comes from). Sarah means princess. BatMelek is a compound word. Bat is daughter and Melek is king, so it means daughter of the king. The essence of a princess is that she is a daughter of a king, and as Christians, we are all children of the King. I studied in Israel for a semester in college and a friend there gave me the nickname BatMelek. It's how I became reconciled with the meaning of my name—it wasn’t just pink and frilly, but had cool theological significance!  And my ring, which I had made in Israel, is an ever present tangible reminder of who I am--a daughter of the King.

Interestingly, I thought that the grammar wasn't right in the Hebrew of the nickname my friend gave me. It's a noun construct and I thought the "the" definite article was missing. Several years later, I was talking with God—in a season when He wasn't replying much—and I asked Him how I was doing. Was I doing good, bad, indifferent? I just didn't know. So what did He think? God was being quiet again, so I went through the motions of my habit of reading and praying in the morning. Just as I was about to get ready for the day, I remembered that I hadn't read a psalm yet. I like to cycle through the book of Psalms, not randomly, but from one to 150 in order and back to the beginning again. That morning the next psalm up was number 45. I was in the NASB version and was just reading along until I was floored by verse 13a:

The King’s daughter is all glorious within;

Well, that's me! Any other translation wouldn't have grabbed my attention.  Most of them say princess and fill in where that “within” is, instead of leaving it open ended like the Hebrew (see here).

God answered my beginning question of how I was doing--which was really a question of worth and value--in the psalm I almost forgot to read.  The king's daughter, me, is presently all glorious within.  That He saw me as all glorious within, right then, in the middle of the process of walking with Him.

And it gets better. I decided to geek out a bit and pull out my Hebrew tools. I was interested in finding out more about what "all glorious within" meant. But what I really found was that "king's daughter" was BatMelek. Spelled exactly like my ring. So it really was me!

That's why my answer to the question of what my name means is usually not the simple one word, princess. I have a really cool story about how I came to terms with what my name means and it’s fun to share cool God stuff.

I love psalm 45. And that is one of my very most favorite moments with God. But it just dawned on me this week that BatMelek, daughter of the King, is a definition.  BatMelek defines my position with God—He is King and I am His daughter.  But Sarah, princess, is a term of endearment.  The current Disney princess craze wasn’t happening twenty-five years ago.  And because I actually never have liked pink and frilly things, I don’t remember anyone ever calling me a little princess.   Except that princess is what my name means.  Names are declarations over people (I’ll expand on that in a later blog post).  So every single time someone says my name, God’s term of endearment is spoken over me.  "Sarah, princess, dear one." The presence of the ring on my finger reminds me of who I am relationally to God. Hearing my name now is a reminder of who God says I am--His princess, dear one.

So the next time someone asks me what my name means, I’ll say, “Princess.”  And smile.

This is part one in what will be an occasional “What's in a Name” series.

I think God is fond of nicknames. He takes many and likes to give them.  Today ask God what He thinks of you. What is He calling you? Not what is He calling you to, but what is He calling you? What is His nickname for you?

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