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February 22, 2010

The Candidates: What's in a Name (or Psalm)?


A lot of Lost fans noticed in last week's episode, "The Substitute," that Jack's name in the cave was assigned the number 23. (Warning: Don't read if you didn't see that episode.) The connection to Psalm 23 seems almost too easy for a guy with the surname Shephard.

Ever since I saw that, I've wondered, "Do each of the names in that cave relate to their respective number's psalm?"

Well, this is no exact science--and it's totally stretching. I mean, the producers didn't sit down 6 years ago and assign psalms to various characters. I know. But still, this is a fun little exercise, right? And so, I tried to see what I could discover. And while it may just be meaningless fun, I also stumbled on some very intriguing things--including a possible clue about who may replace Jacob.

While Jack is the only candidate with his name (or a form of it) showing up in his or her psalm, playing with the meaning of names proved to be interesting. For instance, Hurley Reyes was given the number 8. Reyes means “like a king.” Psalm 8 says God's name is majestic. It continues: "What is man that you are mindful of him...You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands."

The surname Locke means "woods; fortified place; pond." Locke's assigned number is 4 and Psalm 4 is all about finding a fortified place: "Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress. ... I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” It is certainly true that John Locke always searched for a place of relief--and found it on the island. More poignantly, it seems that the Man in Black also found a fortified place within the identity of Locke.

Also, with Locke I want to point out that Psalm 4 echoes this character's long search of direction and cries for answers. And it could point to his continued faith in the island as a false God: "How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?"

The meaning of Sayid's name does not seem to correspond with his psalm, number 16. But it is still fascinating. That Psalm discusses eternal life, something Sayid has been all about this season. Psalm 16 reads: "you will not abandon me to the grave." In fact, Sayid's Season 6 worries that his eternal home will not be very pleasant due to his sinfulness sounds a lot like Psalm 16:2: "Apart from you I have no good thing." (Also, it should be noted that the boy's name Jarrah means "God gives sweetness; honey." And honey is a key part of Numbers 16. Coincidence? Yah, probably.)

The last two names I looked at didn't pan out but one provided the most thought-provoking insight of my little exercise. Let's start with Sun and Jin Kwon. Their surname means "authority." The corresponding psalm, Psalm 42, isn't about authority. If we divide the two numbers, Psalm 2 is about God's authority but Psalm 4 doesn't seem to connect to anything. Any thoughts? Maybe this married couples' first names are significant here. Jin means "gold" and sun means "goodness." Still, I got nothing.

Now, we get to the finding I am most giddy about: James "Sawyer" Ford. No, I don't really see any connection between him or his name to Psalm 15. I mean, the only thing that comes close is the line "Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?" because, well, Sawyer didn't want to dwell in the sanctuary and split.

However, what was most interesting about this exercise was learning the meaning of the boys' name James. I knew it was a variant of the name Jacob, but I didn't know that it means "he who supplants." Oooh, as in he could supplant Jacob? Did you know that?

What you think? I need your help. Did I miss anything? Can you make any scriptural connections I missed? Any name meanings I didn't look into?

Does any of this tell us anything?

Todd Hertz, a CT movie critic, is also a regular contributor for ThinkChristian.net where he'll also be writing occasionally about Lost this season.

Related Tags: Lost, Psalms, TV


Todd--Fun post! Regarding the apparent disconnection with Kwon, what about the possibility that the cave reference is tied to Sun and Jin's baby, not to Sun or Jin?

23 - Shephard = Psalm 23
8 - Reyes (reyes meaning "kings") = 1 Kings 8
16 - Jarrah (jarrah meaning "vessel") = Jeremiah 27:14-22 (New American Standard Version)

Hi, wonderful page. Good jop.

'Jack' is a variation on 'John,' one of the gospel writers.

Claire's baby, Aaron, is the name of the first High Priest of Israel, and Jacob is like a high priest to the island. Remember when she had that miscarriage scare in a recent episode, Claire called her baby Aaron but didn't know why?

For Sayid, Psalms 16 talks about not letting the body decay, and not abandonding to the grave.

Sayid was brought back from the dead in the temple! I think there is definitely a fit there.

I have to say, the connections you have made here are very intriguing. I was recently thinking about this, and my very spiritual aunt had mentioned some of the Psalm numbers. I read each of the Psalms (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42) and found some of the same connections that you did, although I did not think to find the meanings of each character's name (very insightful). I am interested to see how the series ends, and whether or not this question will be answered.