Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested. (1 Chronicles 4:9-10)
He Asked And God Granted
Genealogies are somewhat boring at best and tedious to wade through the inability to pronounce the names of Bible characters. They serve an important purpose in scripture and like the genealogies of Jesus given by Matthew and Luke declare Jesus to be a child of Abraham and man as a descendant of Adam. In the Old Testament genealogies are numerous and while reading the text an attempt will be made to skip the long lists, opportunities abound with intriguing lessons embedded in the passage. The Chronicles are two valuable volumes filled with a treasure trove of information of the nation of Israel. There are a lot of “begots” and “begets” with names so hard to pronounce it becomes a foreign language to most. These lists can also be used for parents seeking names for the children. For example who would not want to name their daughter Hazelelponi or son Eshtemoa (sounds Hawaiian but he was a Maachathite)? Intermixed among the family of Judah was a man who appears in scripture and disappears as quickly with no other reference in scripture. His name is Jabez. What is known about him has filled books and sermons with powerful lessons from a man who asked the Lord for a blessing and was granted what he requested.
Jabez was an upright man and the text compares him to his brother declaring he was more honorable than his brothers (not saying a lot about his siblings). His birth must have been a difficult one for his mother as she named him Jabez because she bore him in pain. The emphasis must have shown a more intense birth as the consequence of sin was that all women would bring forth children in pain. Jabez was a man of character and holiness as he sought the blessing of the Lord and was very specific in his needs. He asked the Lord to bless him with the things he needed. Often prayers are given for everyone else but the person doing the praying. Jabez realized he needed the blessings of God as much if not more than anyone else. He also knew the only source of true strength would come from the blessings of the Lord. His will for God in his life was that the Lord’s hand be with him. This is an incredible statement of faith and trust in a man who emptied himself to serve the will of God alone. His life would be measured by the will of the Divine one and nothing else. What a powerful testimony of trust to rely on the word of God to guide his mind, soul and body in the service of the Lord. He wanted the hand of the Lord to be with him. One of the most important parts of his prayer was to seek the protection of the Father against the wiles of the devil. Jabez knew the power of sin but he knew the power of God was greater and without that providence he would be destroyed by sin. It is one thing to want to overcome temptation but the character of Jabez was his active faith to seek God’s intervention to not be lead to temptation but to be delivered from the evil one. He did not want to cause pain to others and especially did he not want to displease the Father.
With fervent prayer comes responsibility. Jabez asked the Lord to bless him, keep His hand upon him and to keep him from evil because he had a higher plan for his life. He begged God to enlarge the borders of his territory. It does not seem logical that Jabez is simply asking for more land to be his so that he could be a wealthy landowner. What this man of God wanted was more opportunities to serve the Lord. He was unwilling to remain in the place that he found himself but to increase in the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord so that he could be an example to others. Not being satisfied with the status quo, Jabez went to the Lord and asked for more work. How often do employees go to their leadership and ask for more work? When was the last time we went to God and asked for more work that we can do in His kingdom (most often people are trying to do much less than the Lord demands)? Jabez was a man of action. There were no fields of grass growing under his feet. He wanted work and he wanted to serve the Lord. Accomplishing this task came about because he wanted God to bless him, keep His hand upon him and to protect him from the devil.
Here is the takeaway from the story of Jabez: he asked for it and God granted it. Would the Lord have granted these things if he did not ask? Jabez wanted to do something and he knew where to go to seek his answers. Going to the Lord he asked specific petitions of the Lord because he had an exact job he wanted to accomplish for God. His prayer was clear, concise, conclusive and complete. The Lord granted the prayer of Jabez because he asked and he asked big. Prayer is a specific plea for a particular need so that God’s work can be done. The Holy Spirit is silent about what happened in the life of Jabez but in reality the Spirit finished the story by saying nothing. Jabez received the blessing of God and changed the world he lived in. We will never know what the rest of the story of Jabez was but everyone who knew him understood the faith of this powerful man of God. Prayer is pleading the promises of God. Ask God and seek His blessing but be careful – the Lord will grant you what you ask.