THE POWERFUL PRAYER OF JABEZ
1Chronicles 4:9-10 reads:
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother 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 indeed, and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from evil so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
The data of Israel’s history was organized and recorded by the Chronicler to address the exiles who had returned from Babylon. The first nine chapters of First Chronicles are devoted to the genealogies which span from the time of Adam to the generation that returned to rebuild Jerusalem after seventy years of captivity.
These two verses concerning Jabez stand out in stark contrast to the mere recording of name upon name which characterizes most lineages. Although it is evident that Jabez descended from the tribe of Judah, unlike the others whose names are recorded, there is no clear reference to Jabez’ clan or family. Obviously, this account of Jabez was not included to focus upon his lineage, but to emphasize the impact that his prayer had upon his life.
Keil, in his commentary, supposes that these verses are a record of a vow made by Jabez. Keil goes on to suggest that the vow was so significant and its fulfillment so apparent that it has been handed down.
More importantly, we must remember that the information recorded in the Books of the Chronicles are not only historic fact, but are the inspired Word of God. The account of Jabez has been preserved by God to teach us spiritual lessons and to help us draw nearer to Him.
His mother named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.”
Jabez’s mother named her son a name which sounds like the Hebrew word for pain or suffering. It also can be translated as sorrow maker. Biblical names are very significant. Some names have been prophetic, such as the name Jesus which means Savior. More often they expressed some outstanding personal characteristic. Abram, which means exalted father, had his name changed by God to Abraham, which means the father of many. Abraham’s grandson was named Jacob which means he grasps the heel or figuratively means the usurper or deceiver. After Jacob spends twenty years being deceived by his uncle Laban, he returns home. On his journey home, he spends a night wrestling with the Angel of the LORD. Jacob is renamed Israel which means he strives with God or having power with God.
It can be assumed that Jabez, who was named the sorrow maker, harmed others, and in turn, his life was filled with pain.
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel …
Jabez descended from Judah, one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Jabez cried out to the God of Israel who had seen the misery of His people during their Egyptian bondage. The LORD God heard as Israel cried out because of their harsh taskmasters.
“Oh, that you would bless me indeed …
As a Jew, Jabez was circumcized as a sign that he was a partaker of the Abrahamic covenant. Jabez knew that God’s gracious covenant with Abram was full of blessings. Because Abram was obedient and left his country, his people and his father’s house in order to follow God, the LORD promised the following to him:
“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Gen 12:2-3
Jabez understood that God is a God of love and grace who desires to bless His people.
… and enlarge my territory!
Jabez knew that when the Israelites were finished with their wilderness experience and entered into the promised land that the LORD said to Joshua:
“I will give you every place where you set foot, as I promised Moses.” Joshua 1:3
The God of Israel also promised that if Joshua obeyed the Law handed down through Moses, that Joshua would be successful wherever he would go. Joshua was encouraged to be strong and courageous in battle because the LORD’S hand would be with him. So Jabez prayed:
Let your hand be with me …
Jabez desired to be blessed and his territory enlarged. Jabez realized that in order for his sphere of influence, his personal wealth, and his impact for God’s kingdom to increase, it would take the grace of God, the power of God and the presence of God’s Spirit – the hand of God – to accomplish it.
… and keep me from evil so that I will be free from pain.”
Jabez cried out to God “keep me from evil.” Just as the children of Israel fervently cried out to God to be delivered from their physical bondage and physical pain, Jabez fervently cried out to be delivered from his spiritual bondage and emotional pain. He was named the “Sorrow Maker.” Jabez caused others to suffer pain. Jabez wanted to be kept from evil so that he could be free from pain. Doing what is evil is sin. All wrong doing is sin. Sin not only breaks our relationship with God, but also harms others as well as ourselves.
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.
Why is a man named pain who had to cry out to God, “keep me from evil…” called more honorable than his brothers? Because Jabez wanted to turn from his painful ways and knew from whom to seek help.
I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. Ps 121:1-2
The LORD is translated from the Hebrew Yahweh – the covenant name of the God of Israel. Jabez cried out to the God of Israel for deliverance and blessing. Jabez was not more righteous than his brothers because of his noble character or actions, but because he humbled himself, repented of his sins, and trusted in the grace of God for forgiveness and blessing.
His mother named him Jabez …
Jabez came from a disfunctional family. He was cursed from birth by his own mother who labeled her newborn as a pain maker. He may have been ridiculed by other children and even by his own brothers. Jabez may have even tried to live up to his name. But we have no record of the names of the brothers of Jabez. Although he was named “Sorrow Maker,” the Scripture refers to him as an honorable man.
And God granted his request.
Jabez was blessed indeed. Jabez’s wealth, influence and impact for God’s kingdom remarkably increased. God presence and power was with him. Jabez was kept from evil and free from pain.
Have you come from a disfunctional family?
Are you burdened with the guilt of pain that your misdeeds have wrought?
Do you want to experience true forgiveness?
If you desire the power and presence of God in your life, then be encouraged by the following passage from Romans 10 verses 9-10:
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
Pray this simple prayer of faith and accept God’s gracious gift of salvation:
“Lord Jesus Christ,
I know that I am a sinner and there is nothing that I can do to earn my way to heaven. Although I deserve God’s wrath, by God’s mercy, I accept your free gift of eternal life by faith. I believe that You were born of a virgin and died on the cross to pay the price of my sins. I believe you were buried, rose again on the third day, have ascended into heaven, and will soon come again.
Lord, please forgive me of my sins, come into my heart and take control of my life.” AMEN
If you have just prayed this prayer then go to:
Now I Know