1 Chronicles 4:9-10
And Jabez was more honorable than his brothers: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bore him with sorrow.
In the midst of this wilderness of dry names, the dead leaves of a long-gone past, we stumble by chance on a beautiful flower, lovely in form and perfumed with precious and holy sentiment, a perfectly glad surprise amidst the barrenness of mere enumeration.
1. How many and various are the meanings we attach to the word "bless"! In the Bible we find God blessing men, and quite as frequently men blessing God; God blessing man by pouring out upon him physical happiness and physical prosperity; blessing him also by making him righteous and cleansing him from sin. Man, on the other hand, is spoken of as blessing God for His bounty and care, for His holy chastisement, for His merciful forgiveness. Again we have men blessing one another and blessing themselves in the way of self-congratulation. We find the word used likewise in a more formal and superstitious way as though the pronouncing of it would entail its fulfilment and become not only a prophecy but a pledge. Leaving Scripture we notice that the term bless is in common use among ourselves in more senses than one. We speak of persons as blessed with high talents, or with a noble position, blessed with a large family or with good fortune; especially do we regard health as a blessing and in most cases also long life.
2. The meaning of the word "bless" or "blessing" depends on the person who uses the term, depends on his native character, surroundings, training, his self-culture or his entire lack of it, his toilsome struggle after virtue or his shameful familiarity with vice. You may be so debased as to think that God's blessing consists in let. ring you do exactly as you please, however wicked it may be, without suffering the final consequences of detection, or you may have. a nature as lofty, as to regard as the best of God's blessings "a clean heart and a right spirit," without which all other of His good gifts would be but curses.
3. The prayer for increased prosperity is perfectly justifiable so long as a man cares most of all to be kept from evil and sin. There is no harm in praying for temporal prosperity, if we feel it to be any real relief to our care and so long as we are ready to take God's answer of "No" as willingly as to receive an answer of "Yes." God's blessing indeed is to be kept from evil.
4. It is a grand test, ever ready at hand for deciding the most subtle case of conscience, to look whether we can deliberately ask for God's blessing to rest upon it.
(Charles Voysey, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.