1 Chronicles 4:10
And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast…
I. Mark the first line of his prayer: "Oh that thou wouldest BLESS ME INDEED!" He needs the blessing of his covenant God. He pleads for it. He pleads earnestly. It is real prayer. It is such prayer God bears, such prayer he loves to hear and to answer. But oh] there is many a blessing which may not be a blessing "indeed. Of this Jabez is aware. He asks not for a blessing, but a blessing indeed - for that which will be a real blessing. He asks not for that which may come in the form of a blessing and in the end prove a curse. He asks for that to come which will be a real, permanent, abiding blessing. Let it come in what shape it may. That, Lord, I leave to thee. Let it come in darkness or in light, in suffering and sorrow or in health and gladness, in the abundance of wealth or the desolation of poverty - any way as best may seem to thee, Lord; only let it be a blessing to me, a blessing 'indeed.'" Ah, this is prayer, and the right sort of prayer. There was something like it, only in an infinitely higher degree, in the Garden of Gethsemane: "Father, thy will be done." There was just this difference between the Son of God in the bosom of the Father and those who are sons of God only by adoption. He did not need the strengthening angel from heaven to give him that submission of will. It was not till after that submission the angel appeared to strengthen him. The angel was sent, not to produce submission of spirit, but for the weakness of the body, and to carry out the work of redemption. His holy soul was always submissive. It was his nature to be so. With us, however, it is different. We need the strengthening angel to help us to submission to the Father's will as well as to do the work of God. Our nature is essentially rebellious. We require the discipline of God's hand to bring us to submit. His holy soul was submission itself. There is a passage in the New Testament which corresponds exactly with this distinction I have drawn in the prayer of Jabez between a blessing and a blessing "indeed. Our Lord said to the Jews (John 8:31, 32), If ye continue in my Word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." It is one thing to be a "disciple," it is another to be a "disciple indeed. Many were disciples" in our Lord's time; how few were the "disciples indeed! Many followed him, but from what motives? How few continued in the Word," "knew the truth" with that deeper knowledge of the heart, and were "made free" by that knowledge - " free" from the bondage of guilt and sin, "free" from the power of sin over their lives, "free" from all that which they felt was contrary to the glory of God! Ah, how little of this freedom there may be with all our discipleship! This is what it is to be a "disciple indeed. This is what it is to be blessed indeed. Reader, are you a disciple indeed?
II. Mark the next petition: And wouldest ENLARGE MY COAST." Probably the coast which he prays may be enlarged was some earthly possession. He speaks as one who had to recover from the hand of the enemy his portion of the promised land. For the recovery of this he was about to engage in war. And what a spiritual lesson we learn from it! It is by conflict the child of God obtains more and more of the blessings laid up for him in Christ. The Word of the Lord is to him what it was to Israel of old: "Go ye up and possess the land;" "There remaineth yet very much land to be possessed. Oh, what blessings are laid up for us in Christ! Why do we not enter into our inheritance? God has indeed blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ," but have we possessed them? Have we drunk deep of these wells of living waters? Are our souls living upon the riches that are hid in Christ for us? Why do we not possess the land which Jesus has won for us? Because, dear reader, there is no conflict. We must fight to enjoy. We must know what it is, hour after hour, to engage in conflict - yes, in a bloody conflict - with the world, the flesh, and the devil. We must grapple hour after hour with flesh and blood - with" the lust of the eye, and the pride of life." We must know keenly what it is to pluck out a right eye, and cut off a right hand or a right foot. We must know the struggle with sloth and indulgence, with natural inclinations and desires, with unholy dispositions, and harsh tempers, and unkind words, and a fault-finding spirit. Have we entered into, are we daily engaged in, a conflict like this? Ah, you will never be a "disciple indeed unless you know something of this agony. It is through conflict, through warring a good warfare, that God opens the floodgates of the soul for all the treasures of his grace to flow in. You may know them and talk about them; but have you possessed the good land? Is it not true that there remaineth yet" - yes, yet after all these years of Christian discipleship - "very much land to be possessed"? Oh I no warfare, no conflict, no struggle; then no deep joy, no sweet peace, no uplifting communion with God, no realized sweetness of the Word, no real growth in grace, no likeness to Christ. Jabez's coast would never have been enlarged without a deadly struggle with the foe. There will be no enlargement of coast with you, Christian, without this. It is thus we see it in the Lord's address to the seven Churches. Every promise is made there not to the Christian as such, not to the disciple, but "to him that overcometh. They are made to the disciple indeed" - to the one who knows something not only of what it is to fight, but to win. Yes, Christian, your soul has been saved by Christ's finished work; but every inch of the ground beyond must be fought for. You will pass into God's presence a naked soul - just saved. Where are the laurels you have won? Where is the ground around you bedewed with your tears from struggling in prayer? Where is the inward struggle against indolence and sloth, against yielding to natural inclination, against a censorious spirit, against some unkind word at your fireside, against some light or frivolous thought? Where is the holy anxiety to redeem time for God? Where is the agony and bloody sweat against temptation and sin? Where is the soul's inward yearning after God? Where is the surrender to him hour after hour - the full consecration of self and all things to his glory? Oh, this is the warfare with the foe; and the man who knows something of this alone knows what it is to have "enlargement of coast." Precious prayer! Lord, "enlarge my coast"! Make more room in my heart, in my life, for thee! I am so narrow, so cramped, so straitened, so wretchedly little! Oh, enlarge this straitened soul of mine! Make more room for thyself in me and in everything about reel Yes, in my time, my pleasures, my duties, my cares, my aims, my household, my children, my servants, - in all make more room for thyself! Come, Lord Jesus, "enlarge my coast." And do it now! Let me not wait another day, another hour. Reader, are you ready for this? Will you to-day make this your prayer? Believe it, you will not be a stranger to the joy of the Lord any longer if you will. Oh, make this your prayer and your aim! "Go ye up and possess the land," for "there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed."
III. What is the next petition? "That THINE HAND MIGHT BE WITH ME." The band of God is the presence of God. But it is more. It is God in activity. It is God in life and power. It is the psalmist's holy longing: "My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God." The hand of God is God in power on our behalf. What was the hand of Jesus? What mighty works were done by it! It touched the leper, and all disease fled. It touched the dead, and made it start into life again. It was laid on a sinking disciple, and held him amid the boiling water-floods. It was laid on a loving disciple who had fallen prostrate before the glory of the Son of man, and it raised him to his feet again, and enabled him to stand in the midst of all the unveiled glories of the Apocalypse. Oh, the hand of the God-man Jesus, what power there was in it! Thus Jabez prays, "That thine hand may be with me. Thus the child of God may ever pray. It is just what we need - him with us in all his glorious power; him to put away our leprous sin; him to raise our dead souls to life; him to uphold our sinking souls amid the storms and tempests of life; him to raise us out of the dust of grovelling earthliness, and make us look into the glory before us; him to bless us; him to do all. That thine hand may be with me." Reader, it is just what you need - a living Jesus at your side from day to day, and hour to hour.
IV. Mark the concluding petition: "That thou wouldest KEEP ME FROM EVIL, that it may not grieve me." Observe, reader, it is not a prayer to be kept from evil. It is a prayer to be kept from the effects of evil. "That it may not grieve me." "Have we received good at the hand of the Lord, and shall we not receive evil?" "Shall there be evil in a city, and I have not done it?" The Christian cannot pray to be delivered from evil. He will have sorrow and suffering and trial here. The eye must often weep over sin; the heart must often mourn over its depravity. Temptation must be constantly endured. But this the soul may pray for - that the sin within us and the temptations around us may not grieve or hurt the soul. This he may pray for - that his evil heart may not draw him from God; that an evil nature may not be yielded to; that an evil spirit may not deaden his soul, and leave him cold and heartless to the Saviour and his glory. There is no exemption from evil here. It is in us and around us on every side. But, blessed be God, we have One dwelling within us, even the Holy Spirit, and through his mighty working evil may be turned into a blessing. It is for this we may pray, we must pray. Your danger is not in possessing an evil heart, but in yielding to it. Your danger is not being on the verge of a precipice, but in being unwatchful there. Oh, pray this prayer, Christian reader! - W.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.
WEB: Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, "Oh that you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from evil, that it not be to my sorrow!" God granted him that which he requested.