Jabez

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By Pastor Tom A. Faulk

One can easily miss, while hurriedly reading through chapter after chapter of genealogies, the golden nugget in 1Chronicles 4:9-10. Jabez may be unfamiliar to you and me, but he was well known in his day, and to those for whom the Chronicles were primarily intended. Notice three distinguishing thoughts about Jabez.

  1. THE HONOR OF JABEZ.

The word honorable has a wide range of application in the O.T. however, the meaning of the word centers on the word “weight.” In other words, Jabez was a “man of weight” or a weighty man. This Hebrew word is also translated rich in Ge. 13:2, “And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.” However, the word is mostly translated honor or honorable, as in Ex 20:12, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”

FB Meyer said, “Jabez was, as many think the son of Coz or Kenaz, and is here eulogized for his sincere and fervent piety, as well, perhaps, as for some public and patriotic works which he performed. The Jewish writers affirm that he was an eminent doctor in the law, whose reputation drew so many scribes around him that a town was called by his name.” (1Ch 2:55)

I agree with Meyer, the word honorable describes his character. He was a godly man, he was industrious, and he was more honorable, or more noble than his brethren.  

2. THE SORROW OF JABEZ.

His mother called him Jabez meaning sorrow, because “I bare him with sorrow.” Notice that it does not say that she bare him “in sorrow.” In my opinion it rules out the thought conveyed in Ge 3:16, “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children…” When comparing the Hebrew words translated sorrow in both 1Chron 4 and Ge 3 you will discover that they are similar yet vastly different. Also compare “with sorrow” with “in sorrow.” I don’t believe the phrase “I bare him with sorrow” in 1 Ch 4:9 represents her pain in childbearing, rather it represents her sorrow and pain in life. In other words, the days in which she lived were hard to which Jabez will be subjected. Most likely, sorrow describes her life and the era of time into which Jabez will be born.

Again, FB Meyer said, “The memory of the critical circumstances which marked his birth was perpetuated 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.”

Illustration: Ichabod represents a troubled time. When Eli the priest heard that his sons, Hophni and Phinehas, have died in battle against the Philistines, and the Ark of God was taken he fell off his seat backward, broke his neck, and died.

1Sa. 4:19-22, “And his daughter in law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.”

3. THE PRAYER OF JABEZ.

The reason for his prayer is unknown. One can only speculate. Is his prayer related to what caused his mother’s grief to which he may have been subjected, or is it related to fighting for territory in Canaan, or is it related to an exploit known only to Jabez?

It has been suggested that his prayer centered on the removal of the Canaanites from the territory he occupied. This battle which God Himself had commanded, would have its share of hardship however, the removal of the intrusive inhabitants would eliminate his grief.

Is it territorial related or economic hardship? Whatever it may have been Jabez depends only on God for relief. He prays, keep me from evil,” Evil is defined as hardship and predictably caused a great deal of grief. His prayer in my opinion, “bless me, and enlarge my coast” would compensate or combat the hardship he is experiencing. His mother forewarned him, she lived with sorrow, Jabez will be exposed to it as well.

Ichabod was born in a time when the glory departed from Israel, and he was so named. Jabez was born during a time of hardship, and he was so named. Note: Jabez prays exclusively for himself, undoubtedly inspired by his grief.

  • Personal: Bless ME.
  • Prosperity: Enlarge MY coast.
  • Presence: And that thine hand be with ME.
  • Protection: Keep ME from evil. 
  • Peace: That it may not grieve ME!
  • And God granted his requests.

Notice the exclamation mark after the phrase, “That it may not grieve me!” An exclamation mark usually follows an interjection or exclamation to indicate strong feelings or high volume, or to show emphasis. The answer to this prayer will relieve his grief which in my opinion is the emphasis in verses 9-10, and Jabez’ mother will be compensated for all her sorrow.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

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