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.…
These two beautiful verses come in the midst of a dry and (to us) comparatively uninteresting genealogy, like an oasis in a desert. We know nothing at all of the person here mentioned except what is recorded in this passage. Yet there is so much of meaning in these brief sentences, that Jabez is certainly to the readers of this book more than a name.
I. Observe his NAME. Scripture names are often significant. This was given by the mother, in token and memory of the sorrow in which she bore her son. "In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children," was the primeval sentence upon the mother of mankind. Yet, as Christ reminds us, it is usually the case that a mother "remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world." The mother of Jabez did not forget, and accordingly named the child in memory of her pains.
II. Observe his PRAYER. It is an interesting fact that we know some Scripture characters chiefly by their prayers. Thus we know Agur as having besought the Lord, "Give me neither poverty nor riches." And we know Jabez by the comprehensive petition which he is recorded to have presented to Heaven.
1. It was a prayer to a covenant God - the God of Israel.
2. It was a prayer for blessing; i.e. for good as the expression of Divine favour and approbation.
3. It was a prayer for prosperity; "Enlarge my coast." We know nothing of Jabez's way of life, whether he was a husbandman, or a warrior, or a ruler; but it is clear that he asked for enlargement of means, or authority, or territory, etc.
4. It was a prayer for strength: "That thy hand might be with me."
5. It was a prayer for safety and purity. The evil from which this good man would fain be kept was, probably, both temporal and spiritual. How suitable a petition for us all!
6. It was a prayer for freedom from sorrow. If disasters should befall him, or if he should be tempted to apostasy or sin, such a fate would be fraught with grief to his heart.
III. Observe THE ANSWER to his prayer. The petition was large, but it was offered to a King, who was the rather pleased with its magnitude. There was no hesitation, no withholding. A lesson this as to God's willingness to hear and answer the supplications of his people.
IV. Observe HIS HONOUR AMONGST MEN. Who the brethren of Jabez were we know not. The verse contains nothing in disparagement of their character or position. But Jabez was more honourable than they. The Lord is wont to honour those who honour him. Jabez acknowledged God as the Source of his prosperity, and God rewarded Jabez, by raising him to a position of authority and esteem in his family and amongst his countrymen. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.