Scriptures

The Prayer Of Jabez!

Introduction

‘Jabez was more honourable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request’. 1 Chronicles 4:9+10

The dangers!

The dangers when dealing with small texts with so little information on a person or any subject is reading too much into something which the Bible doesn’t say. Speculation can be good sometimes but never taught as truth.

Who was Jabez?

There is no mention of him anywhere else in the scriptures. From the context, it does appear that he was of the tribe of Judah, and some people think, he was the son of Coz, or Kenaz, 1 Chronicles 4:8. But we can’t be sure. In this passage, he is praised for his sincere and passionate goodness, as well as for some public and devoted works which he performed.

The Jewish writers affirm that he was an well-known doctor in the law, whose reputation drew so many scribes around him that a town was called by his name,

1 Chronicles 2:55 ‘and the clans of scribes who lived at Jabez: the Tirathites, Shimeathites and Sucathites’

and to the goodness of his character this passage bears ample testimony. There are other theories as to who and what he was, but our purpose here is simply to see what lessons we can learn from this passage of scripture.

What does your name mean?

The meaning of Jabez is ‘pain’ or ‘he will cause pain.’ Though what kind of pain he caused, outside of childbirth we don’t know. The memory of the critical circumstances which marked his birth was continued in his name and yet, in the development of his high talents or distinguished worth in later life, his mother must have found a satisfaction and delight that amply compensated for all her early trials.

What was his prayer about?

His prayer which is like Jacob’s, is in the form of a vow.

Genesis 28:20-22 ‘Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.’

His prayers seem to have been uttered when he was entering on an important or critical service, for the successful execution of which he placed confidence neither on his own nor his people’s ability, but looked anxiously for the aid and blessing of God.

The venture was in all probability the expulsion of the Canaanites from the territory he occupied and as this was a war of extermination, which God Himself had commanded, His blessing could be the more reasonably asked and expected in preserving them from all the evils to which the undertaking might expose him.

Numbers 33:50-54 ‘On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho the Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places. Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess.’

‘Jabez was more honourable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request’. 1 Chronicles 4:9-10

In these words, ‘so that I will be free from pain,’ and which might be more literally rendered, ‘that I may have no more sorrow,’ there is an allusion to the meaning of his name, Jabez, signifying ‘grief’ and the introduction of this petition is,

‘Let me not experience the grief which my name implies, and which my sins may well produce.’

‘God granted his request’

Whatever was the kind of undertaking which roused his anxieties, Jabez enjoyed a remarkable degree of prosperity, and God, in this instance, proved that He was not only the hearer, but the answerer of prayer.

‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request’.

‘Jabez was more honourable than his brothers.’ 1 Chronicles 4:9

1. Consider the attitude of Jabez.

He was honourable

Why he was more honourable than his brothers we aren’t told, but it may have to do with the nature of his prayer. There are two characteristics that are needed for one to be honourable in prayer. One of them is being earnest, which means intense, zealous, sincere, and determined. We’re told that

‘the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much’. James 5:16

The second of these characteristics is humility.

‘Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you’. 1 Peter 5:6-7

The earnest, fervent prayer that is prayed in true humility is honourable before God.

Another aspect of the attitude of Jabez is that he directed his prayer to God.

He didn’t direct his prayer to the gods of the Canaanites’ but the God of Israel. Because we are to worship the Lord our God and serve Him alone, Jesus taught us to address our prayers, saying,

‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name’. Matthew 4:10 / Matthew 6:9

To direct such a prayer to God demonstrates that one is trusting in and thus dependent on Him for everything that is needed.

‘Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God’. Philippians 4:6

2. Consider the character of Jabez’s request.

He requested a personal blessing

To ask God’s blessing is to ask Him to give divine favour. There is nothing wrong with requesting God to bless us specifically. The Psalmist did. He prayed,

‘Save Your people, and bless Your inheritance; shepherd them also, and bear them up forever’. Psalm 28:9

‘Oh, that you would bless me indeed’.

For most of us, Jabez’s prayer seems bold and brash. His prayer revolves entirely around himself. He asks for great favours from God. It’s no more bold than Jacob wrestling with an angel of God, demanding a blessing before he would release him.

Genesis 32:24-26 ‘So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’ But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’

Genesis 32:29 ‘Jacob said, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he replied, ‘Why do you ask my name?’ Then he blessed him there.’

Every good gift is from God

James 1:17 ‘Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.’

The reason Jesus came was to bring us blessings by turning us from sin.

Acts 3:26 ‘When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.’

Blessings are not just gifts, they are life changing benefits from God. In Jesus, we have all spiritual blessings.

Ephesians 1:3 ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ’.

God will supply all we need.

Philippians 4:19 ‘And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.’

Both Jabez and Jacob fully and sincerely believed that God would bless them. Jabez also asked God to enlarge his borders. This seems to relate to material prosperity.

‘Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request’. 1 Chronicles 4:10

Jabez isn’t just asking for more territory

He’s asking God for more responsibility and work as well. So many want to ask God for more of this world’s wealth, but what do you plan to do with it? Are you willing to take on the extra burden that comes with it?

‘But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.’ 1 Timothy 6:6-10

The rich will face more temptations.

Will your faith survive what you are asking for?

‘Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.’ 1 Timothy 6:17-19

God expects extra duties from the wealthy

We’re expected to work so as to have enough to help others

Ephesians 4:28 ‘Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.’

We are to give to God as we have prospered

1 Corinthians 16:2 ‘On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.’

Enlarging our borders can be more than just physical wealth and responsibilities

‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ John 10:10

Jesus came to give us an abundant life. An entrance to the heavenly kingdom is abundantly supplied.

‘You will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’ 2 Peter 1:11

In Christ, our spiritual borders are enlarged

Ephesians 3:17-21 ‘So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.’

But with it comes responsibility and more work. You cannot have more without expecting to put out more. It is certainly scriptural for us to pray that God will bless us materially

Matthew 6:11 ‘Give us today our daily bread’.

However, the Bible offers no ‘quid pro quo’ promise that if we do certain specified things for God then He will materially prosper us a certain specified amount, as some who hold the ‘Abundant Life–Health and Wealth’ Gospel teach.

Rather, the Lord has simply said that if we serve Him faithfully, He will provide for us

Matthew 6:33 ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’.

Then Jabez requests that God’s hand would be with Him, no doubt to provide protection and guidance.

‘Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.’ 1 Chronicles 4:10

‘That your hand might be with me’

We are strengthened by God’s Spirit within us.

Ephesians 3:16 ‘I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.’

‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’. Philippians 4:13

‘Cast your cares on God and he will care for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

‘Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’

David said that God upholds the righteous.

Psalm 37:23-24 ‘The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.’

Here again, more is implied than what is said. If we want God’s help and aid, then we are saying we placed our lives into His care. We have volunteered to be God’s servants, Hs slaves to do His will. Are you willing to give that much of yourself to receive so much more from God? No one can remove us from the mighty hand of Jesus.

John 10:28-29 ‘I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.’

The Psalmist prayed,

‘Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day’. Psalm 25:5

Finally, Jabez expressed a request that God would keep Him from evil.

‘Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.’ 1 Chronicles 4:10

‘That you would keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain’

God watches over and cares for His people. However, Jabez is acknowledging that his request is spiritually dangerous. He is more open to harm from the enemy and he needs protection and aid.

‘Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; filled with food, they became heavy and sleek. They abandoned the God who made them and rejected the Rock their Saviour.’ Deuteronomy 32:15

Wealth and comfort causes people to forget the Lord who gives.

‘When I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, the land I promised on oath to their ancestors, and when they eat their fill and thrive, they will turn to other gods and worship them, rejecting me and breaking my covenant.’ Deuteronomy 31:20

It has happened repeatedly in the past. God doesn’t tempt us with evil.

James 1:12-13 ‘Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.’

But that blessing which we think we want so much can put us into the path of evil.

Even in Jesus’ sample prayer He urged his disciples to ask to be delivered from evil.

Matthew 6:13 ‘And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

God knows how to deliver us.

2 Peter 2:9 ‘If this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.’

Too many have been bluffed by Satan to think they are too far gone into sin. God saved Lot from the evils of Sodom.

2 Peter 2:7-8 ‘if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard).’

God saved Noah from the evil world.

2 Peter 2:5 ‘If he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others.’

God can save us as well, if we will but ask. Jesus also indicated that His disciples should pray for God’s preservation and deliverance, as He taught them to say,

‘and do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ Matthew 6:13

‘Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance’. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

Of course, God’s protection, guidance, preservation, and deliverance are all provided for us through the scriptures

2 Timothy 3:16-17 ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work’.

2 Peter 1:3-4 ‘His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness’.

The reason why Jabez prayed was so that He might not cause pain. One commentator expressed it this way,

‘Let me not experience the grief which my name implies, and which my sins would well produce.’

Another phrased it,

‘Grant that the grief implied in my name may not come upon me!’

And likewise, it should be our prayer,

‘I cling to Your testimonies; O Lord, do not put me to shame!’. Psalm 119:31

Finally, consider the response of God, who granted Him what he requested.

‘Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.’ 1 Chronicles 4:10

‘God granted him what he requested’.

As simple as that.

Are you surprised?

‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. ‘Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!’ Matthew 7:7-11

Are you seeking God’s blessings?

Are you looking to do greater work? Why not this day imitate the prayer of the honourable Jabez? The Lord has promised us,

‘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

God has said that He will hear and respond to the prayers of His people. Oh, He may not always give us what we ask for, when we ask for it, in exactly the way that we asked. But He is the source of every good and perfect gift.

James 1:17 ‘Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.’

Therefore, we can trust Him to answer our prayers by providing what He knows best that we need in harmony with His will, just as He did with the prayer of Jabez.

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

Genesis 1:1

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