In past posts I explain why using the phrases OMG and Oh my G**! directly break our Lord’s third commandment. In one quick grab with our voice, we try to pull Him down, ripping His name of all glory by using it as a trash word. We commonly defile His name by using it as a curse word in unwelcome or disagreeable situations. And, we wrongly toss His name into happy situations; fraudulently praising a delicious meal or loving on a new pair of shoes.
It seems no matter the circumstance, His name is habitually tossed incorrectly. Thankfully, the Bible gives us a positive example on how we are to properly use this phrase. O my God, beautifully written to address our holy Father, is found twenty-two times in the ESV Bible.
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Psalm 22:2 [emphasis added]
O is used here as poetic apostrophe; formally addressing God in a poetic manner.
apostrophe: noun, an exclamatory passage in a speech or poem addressed to a person or thing
On the other hand, O h is an interjection used to express emotion ranging from happiness to despair. The only way to correctly use o h, when the name God follows it, is by inserting a comma after the word oh or after the word my. This punctuation acknowledges direct address to God: “I’m sick again. Oh, my God, why did you let this happen?” The incorrect, frivolous reference to His name is punctuated this way: “Oh my G**! Why did you let this happen?”
And unlike o h the interjection, O the poetic apostrophe is always capitalized, no matter where in the sentence it occurs.
Now, O my God, let your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayer of this place. 2 Chronicles 6:40 [emphasis added]
I know it is sometimes hard for us to determine how someone else speaks the Lord’s name, when there is no punctuation to look at. However, this information is offered as a helpful reference when we, ourselves, have reason to write it. Remember we are not here to point fingers, but to share God’s Word with others, allowing God to work on their hearts when it comes to understanding His third commandment.
Apostrophes are often found in songs, always written to extend honor and respect to the person/thing/idea they are addressing.
America The Beautiful – O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties, Above the fruited plain!
To my Canadian friends – your beloved national anthem, O Canada, starts out O Canada! Our home and native land!
But the beauty of the word O, is that it embraces the reverent attitude our Lord desires, each time we speak His holy name.
O my God, your name I will ensure. O my God, your name remains secure. O my God, your name forever pure. O my God, your name is love for more.