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.…
Two verses only relate the life of Jabez, but they suffice to give us some idea of its nature and character; also to convey some lessons for our guidance as we pass through our own.
I. THREE FEATURES OF HIS LIFE. We learn that:
1. It was begun in special sorrow. His mother called him Jabez because she "bare him with sorrow." Possibly his father had died before his birth, or their estate may have been so reduced as to make another child seem a burden rather than a blessing.
2. It was characterized by special piety. He made his future the subject of earnest prayer to God; he earnestly desired that God would bless him in all his doings, that the Divine hand might be upon him; he evidently believed and felt that all things were ruled and overruled by the Lord himself. He "committed his way unto the Lord."
3. It was crowned with special peace and honour. "God granted him that which he requested" (ver. 10). He was "more honourable than his brethren" - had a larger estate, was held in higher esteem, attained to greater eminence. God did "keep him from the evil" from which he sought Divine deliverance, and it did "not grieve him." He did "enlarge his coast." Peace and honour were his portion in an unusual degree. His life must have had its shadow as well as its sunshine, but it was brighter with earthly honour and less clouded with worldly troubles than are the lives of most men.
II. THE LESSONS WE MAY GLEAN THEREFROM. We learn:
1. That that which has an unpromising beginning may stand among the best. How little did the mother of Jabez imagine that the child of her sorrow would have so honourable a career! The most successful and even glorious enterprise may be begun in weakness and in trembling of heart. That which was once only a small gathering in a back slum has grown into a magnificent and beneficent institution. They that sow in tears may reap in joy. If God prosper a human life or a good cause, its early insignificance will prove of small account. Many a time the widow's child, for whom it has been hard to find food and education, has grown to be a man of weight and honour, filling a large space and doing a great work in the world.
2. That it is right to ask God for material blessings in the hope of obtaining them. These were earthly favours which Jabez asked for, and which he received of God - enlargement of his estate, immunity from trouble and loss, etc. We have no authority for asking God for wealth or immunity from sorrow with a positive assurance that we shall have those things. We do not know that they will suit us; it is quite possible, or even probable, that they would prove the very worst things we could have. But we may ask God for temporal blessings, in the hope of receiving them, if we ask in a subject spirit, desiring him to withhold from us what he knows it would be best to keep back. We are to pray for daily bread; that "his hand may be with us;" that he will be with us in our going out and our coming in.
3. That God is never served in vain. God granted Jabez that which he requested. He may not give us our heart's desires in the form in which we cherish them. The "cup" did not "pass from" the Saviour, but he "was heard in that he feared" (Hebrews 5:7). God has ways of blessing us of which we have little thought when we are on our knees. But if we ask we shall have - if not sooner, later; if not in our way, in his better way. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.