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Deuteronomy 5:7-11 – Improper Use of God’s Personal Name


The second word for Catholics and Lutherans, the third word for Judaism and for Protestants, deals with the appropriate use of God's personal name.


Profanity is wrong, as is cursing, swearing, and cussing. But these are matters of cultural mores. This commandment is concerned with other things, namely the insincere, inauthentic, or deceitful use of God's personal name, "Yahweh." The appropriate use of the name is illustrated in Jeremiah 4:2: "…and if you swear, "As Yahweh lives!" in truth, in justice, and in uprightness, then nations shall be blessed by him, and by him they shall boast" (author's translation). It is possible to swear using the name of the Lord, but it must be done "in truth, in justice, and in uprightness." When so done, one involves God in the matter in question. Inappropriate use of the divine name would include using "Yahweh" in a false oath; false prophecy "in the name of Yahweh"--that is, claiming divine authority for one's own preaching; or any activity in which God's good name is insincerely used to lend authenticity in a manipulative manner.

Deuteronomy 5:7-11

7you shall have no other gods before* me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 9You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me, 10but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation* of those who love me and keep my commandments.

11 You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

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