What’s in a name?

So what’s in a name? Names are a celebration not only of our humanity, but also a reminder of our individuality – that we are uniquely made in the image of God. –Dorothy Astoria

I recently read 1 Samuel Chapter 1 and suggest you read it as well.

For me this time I was really struck with Peninnah’s story. She is only mentioned briefly. And let’s just say it is not a glowing report.

I love finding the meaning of words and names, so I looked up her name and Peninnah means pearl, coral or gem. Jewels are much sought after and valuable. And yet her life’s legacy was not a gem. She did not live up to her name.

She seemed to live in the shadow of Hannah. It is suggested that Hannah was Elkanah’s first wife and because she was barren he took Peninnah as a second wife. He was dutiful to Peninnah and their children but I think Pen was well aware that Hannah was his favourite, his true love (see verse 5).

It is harder to keep my heart right when I am aware of the favour of the Lord on someone else and don’t feel it is on me. You probably know what I am talking about- times in life when you are crying out for more and you see it showered on the person next to you… sometimes we handle that well and rejoice with them but…

What do we do when we feel overlooked?

We can turn to God and deal with it, or let it fester in our hearts and become bitter and jealous. This will come out in our action. Instead of Pen fulfilling her destiny, being a pearl and encouraging Hannah, she was her antagonist.

Isn’t it sad that this would happen right in the house of worship? This should have been her place of comfort and sanctuary but when Pen felt Hannah’s favour and vulnerability she would attack her.

Sadder still is the reality that this happens today in the church. God forgive us.

I do not want to be a wet blanket but a waving flag!

Oh God, when we have moments of weakness, may we quickly go to You to get our hearts right. Forgive me Jesus for the times I have cursed what You have blessed. My desire is to live up to my name and follow You. May we be ones who do not slander others, but build up and encourage one another to draw closer to You. We want to see others bear fruit and fulfill their destinies! Amen.


  1. Marie Sparling says

    Great word, Dorothy. Thanks for sharing .

  2. heather england says


  3. Heather C says

    I am so glad for this vivid reminder. In Celebrate Recovery we really practise this principle of rejoicing with others as they receive insight! Understanding! Victory over a hurt, hang up or habit be it big or small.

  4. Trina Chapman says

    Good word love u beautiful Dorothy xo

  5. Sally Rogers says

    Ah yes, Dorothy, I have had many occasions to feel overlooked. I have had to remind myself of the great legacy in my future and that God doesn’t overlook me. Usually the feelings are short lived as life quickly moves along. Guess it also has to do with a feeling of entitlement, that someone owes me something. I remember one time getting involved in a dispute at church that wasn’t even my affair — someone else’s problem. Before I knew it, I had talked with this person for several hours, agreeing with her rant and offence. She had suggested that I should have a certain position and recognition. Afterwards, rather than excitement, there was a dull bitter taste to it. I realized I only wanted position and recognition that God gave me — anything else is quite sour. Getting out of the predicament I had gotten myself into was somewhat time consuming and was very humbling.😕

  6. Bonnie Brooks says

    Thanks Dorothy. I enjoyed reading your word today. A name can be a lot to live up to. I should check out the meaning of my own name. The important thing for me to take from this passage is to continue to encourage instead of taking apart/attacking and leaving damage. None of us enjoy the negative digs that can come our way. We flourish in encouraging, loving friendships, and knowing that God loves us and wants the best for us.

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