The Prayer of Jabez
I Chronicles 4:9-10 – “And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bore him with sorrow. (The Holy Spirit began the notation concerning Jabez by making the statement concerning him being more honorable. The reason was the trust in God and hunger for God which Jabez had. “In Hebrew culture, the mother, with some few exceptions, always named the child. In that culture, the name was very important. If the Holy Spirit did not impress upon her the name that was to be given, as He sometimes did, she would name the child according to what she wanted him to be, or because of something that had happened in the family that was either a blessing or a curse [especially the boys]. This lady, in naming her little boy ‘Jabez,’ which means ‘he makes sorrow,’ either did not want him, or else felt she could not properly care for him; therefore, the child, by being given this name, would always be reminded of the negative circumstances of his birth. This severe hindrance could have turned him toward bitterness, which would have destroyed him, or toward God. Jabez allowed it to turn him toward God.
“Every difficulty in the life of any person who knows the Lord, irrespective of its severity, can be turned into a blessing. In fact, God specializes in turning the curse into a blessing.)
“And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that You would bless me indeed (every Believer should ask the Lord for ‘the blessing,’ for God is a Blessing God), and enlarge my coast (give me a greater vision), and that Your Hand might be with me (the Hand of God can do anything), and that You would keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! (This is the last entreaty of the prayer of Jabez, and is the largest and most far-seeing. It referred to ‘evil’ in general but, more than that, it referred to evil which had evidently plagued his family in the past.) And God granted him that which he requested (He will do the same for all who will dare to believe Him, exactly as He did for Jabez).”
According to Jewish tradition Ezra is considered the author of First and Second Chronicles. These two Books are the two most important historical narratives ever written. Why? Chapters 1 through 9 consist of the genealogies of particular families, all with one main focal point – the coming of Christ. All of the families in some way had something to do with the coming Redeemer and there is no greater honor than to be associated with Jesus Christ. When you read these genealogies, you are literally reading the story of your Redemption, you are reading the story of Grace and Mercy, and you are reading Eternal Life.
The name “Chronicles” is from the Hebrew “Dibrei Hayyamim,” which means, “words of the days,” or in today’s language “the diary,” a diary kept by God.
The first thing I want you to notice is that this wonderful story just springs upon you in the midst of the giving of the genealogies. Verse 8 ends with the words, “. . . and the families of Aharhel the son of Harum,” and then as though it leaps from the pages with “And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren. . . .” Understand, everything done by the Holy Spirit has a purpose. Perhaps He did it this way so that to find it one must be a student of the Word, only found as we dutifully study God’s Word.
This prayer is meant to be a lesson for us. The Lord is telling us that what was done for Jabez will be done for anyone who will humble themselves, so when you read this prayer, read it knowing that the Lord can do for you what He did for Jabez.
THE NAME JABEZ
The Text says, “. . . and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bore him with sorrow.” In Hebrew culture, it was the mother’s responsibility to name the child. Usually, the name was tied to what she wanted him to be or by some event, good or bad, which had taken place in the family.
The name “Jabez” means “he makes sorrow.” By this, we understand that something of great sorrow was attached to his birth. Whatever it was that happened, it was bad enough for his mother to give him a name that was a constant reminder of the pain and sorrow of the past.
“And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren. . . .” This is what the Holy Spirit said of him. No matter what had happened in the past, no matter the stigma or shame of the past, Jabez refused to let that be a hindrance to him. He refused to let his past define who he was. What a Testimony!
JABEZ CALLED ON THE GOD OF ISRAEL
We find in this statement that Jabez knew his only hope was to “. . . . call on the God of Israel.” No matter what one has suffered, or is presently suffering, one’s only hope is the Lord.
To call on God means that one puts their trust in Him and Him Alone. It means to look exclusively to the Lord for help and guidance.
OH THAT YOU WOULD BLESS ME INDEED
Jabez knew his only hope for blessing was the Lord. As well, he understood that God is a Blessing God. He desires to bless each and every one of His Children.
The word “blessing” means “increase.” The Lord wants to see us increase Spiritually, materially, emotionally, and in every area of our lives. However, faith, trust, and seeking first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness must be paramount on our part.
ENLARGE MY COAST
By this statement, Jabez was stating that he was not going to dwell in the circumstances of the past. He knew that the Lord could “enlarge his coast” or “border.” He was not going to let his present circumstances hem him in. His prayer is single, “Lord, you can take me where I am now and move me to a place of greater pasture.”
AND THAT YOUR HAND MIGHT BE WITH ME
This phrase speaks of the “Hand of Strength,” which, of course, pertains to the Lord and the Lord Alone. As Believers, we must never forget that there is an unseen Hand leading us, guiding us, and upholding us, and the Hand of the Lord is never too short that He can’t reach down and touch His Children. When the Hand of the Lord is upon us, there will be opposition, but the Lord will see us through every situation.
KEEP ME FROM EVIL
The phrase, “. . . and that You would keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!” proclaims to us Spiritual foresight on the part of Jabez.
Oftentimes we let the Lord’s Blessings corrupt us, puff us up in pride, as if we have brought about God’s Blessings. Jabez, understanding that prosperity often destroys, asks for the Lord’s Help that he not let God’s Blessings puff him up in pride. Perhaps this is something we all should take to heart.
The Text closes, “And God granted him that which he requested.” What a statement. God, the Creator of all the universe, consents to answer the request of Jabez. In the eyes of many, Jabez was a nobody, born in sorrow and shame. But God heard the prayer of his heart, a prayer of Faith, and granted his desires.
May we never forget that the prayer of Jabez was and is not just for him, but it can be our prayer also.
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