Jabez

“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother named him Jabez saying, “Because I bore him with pain.” Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” And God granted him what he requested.” (1 Chronicles 4:9-10)

We do not know much of Jabez and he appears in the Scripture only in our text. It is hinted that Jabez was a well-respected man by the fact that he was more honorable than his brothers. In the Targum Bible, which is the Aramaic interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, adds that he was wiser in the law than his brethren. Another reason that he was more honorable could be that he was a praying man, a man of devotion in his religion towards God. Men who were closely devoted to God were well respected men. “He said to him, “Behold now, there is a man of God in this city, and the man is held in honor; all that he says surely comes true. Now let us go there, perhaps he can tell us about our journey on which we have set out.” (1 Samuel 9:6) Jabez must have had a close relationship to God as his prayer was answered.

The name of Jabez was given to him by his mother and in Hebrew means to “grieve or sorrowful.” There are two possible reasons that his mother named him this name and meaning. It may be that her husband was dead and that she was sorrowful of that. Or that she received very sharp childbirth pangs. Therefore Jabez was labelled with sorrow from the time of his birth. The life of Jabez contradicted his name and there is the possibility that a place was named for him.

It is possible that in later years Jabez was a scribe. This would have made him an influential and respected man so much so that the city he lived in was named after him. The city of Jabez was the place where the families of the scribes lived. “The families of scribes who lived at Jabez were the Tirathites, the Shimeathites and the Sucathites. Those are the Kenites who came from Hammath, the father of the house of Rechab.” (1 Chronicles 2:55)

Let us first look at the attitude of Jabez. Jabez was honorable, more honorable that his brothers we are told. But the honor that was Jabez’s may have more to do with the nature of his prayer. For one to be honorable in prayer there is two characteristics needed. One is that the one who prays must be earnest in his prayer. This means that when praying one must be intensely sincere, zealous and determined. James tells us this in his letter to the Churches. “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16)

The second characteristic is humility. The Apostle Peter teaches us this. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7) So we learn that to pray honorably before God we must be earnest in fervent prayer that is executed in true humility.

We also need to consider the character of Jabez’s petition. He was asking God for a personal blessing, which means that he was looking for God’s divine favor. Some may say that this is a selfish approach to God that we would ask the Almighty for a personal blessing. David, the second King of Israel a man after the heart of God, prayed for a personal blessing. “Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.” (Psalm 28:9)

Also Jabez prayed that God would increase his borders. This request seems to relate to material prosperity. Scripture supports that we can ask God for material blessings. “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11) However there is no promise that if we do certain things for God that He will guarantee material prosperity. There are those who teach the “Abundant Life – Health and Wealth” doctrine. The Lord has simply said that if we are faithful and serve Him He will provide us are needs. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Jabez then asked God to be with Him to provide protection and guidance. This is a request that all should make as the Psalmist. “Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day.” (Psalm 25:5) Jabez also asked that God would keep him from evil. This is also a request that Jesus taught His disciples to pray. We all need God’s preservation and deliverance. “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13) This is the security that we as Christians have in abundance, God’s protection, guidance, preservation and deliverance. We can find His promises all through the Scriptures. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Jabez also prayed, “That You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” Jabez bore the name of grief and sorrow and did not want his prophetic name to become a way of living for him. A Bible commentator has said, “Let me not experience the grief which my name implies, and which my sins would well produce.” Another view is as another commentator has written, “Grant that the grief implied in my name may not come upon me!” This too should be our prayer as the Psalmist wrote. “I cling to Your testimonies; O LORD, do not put me to shame!” (Psalm 119:31)

Another point in the attitude of Jabez is that he directed his prayer to God. There are many gods in the world and man seems to be found worshipping many of them. Jabez knew the One and true God and the only God he worshiped. We are to worship God and Him alone. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”  (Deuteronomy 6:5) Jesus taught that we are to address God in reverence. “Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” (Matthew 6:9)

By directing our prayers to God we acknowledge that we are dependent upon Him for our wellbeing. God wants us to trust in Him and in Him alone. God is Jehovah Jireh our provider and He is able. “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” (Ephesians 3:20) As we go through life we should not worry over the things that are needful but make are request known to our Heavenly Father. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

The Lord God did answer Jabez’s prayer. We are promised that God will answer our prayers. It may not be what exactly we asked for or happen when we want it. God’s infinite wisdom will determine what and when for what is best for us. “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17) We can trust our God to answer our prayers with what is best for us and at the perfect time, which will be in harmony for His will for our lives. Jesus has promised, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, March 24, 2017

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