1 Chronicles 4:9
And Jabez was more honorable than his brothers: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bore him with sorrow.…
Supposed to be the son of Kenaz, and an eminent doctor of the law, whose reputation drew around him so many scribes and learned men that a town was called by his name (see 1 Chronicles 2:55). We have seen the pre-eminence given to the tribe of Judah on account of its connection with the promised Christ. Before tracing further the genealogy of the sons of Israel, an entire chapter is devoted to the family of David. This is just as it should be - still further prominence being given to every one and everything that foreshadowed the true David, the Lord Jesus Christ. The line of David is drawn all through the third chapter, through a succession of good and bad monarchs. The Lord's eye is on his beloved Son; and the stream that leads to him winds its way through wastes and stagnant pools and dark morasses lying on either side - everything marked which in any way stands connected with it, but beyond this as unworthy of notice. We can now devote attention to one of God's children in particular, and recorded in this chapter - Jabez. In the midst of a genealogy of some extent, the Spirit of God singles one out for notice, and lingers over it with delight. It is a bright gem on an apparently hard and uninteresting surface shining with brilliancy. It is a name, however, fully confirming all we have hitherto referred to. It would have no notice in the inspired Word but for what there is of God in it. We know much of God in Jabez, very little of who or what he was. Of what he was in relation to the world, in relation to his fellow-men, or to society, or to business, we know little. Of what he was to God there is much said and much known. What matters the rest? We may be sure that was all right. For if men are right towards Christ we may take the rest for granted. It is this that gave Jabez a name in heaven. This made him worthy of a record in the Book of God. But for this he would have been unnoticed and unknown. And what is said of him? "Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow." God's sorrowing ones are generally God's more honourable ones. It is through sorrow we reach our joys. "Ye now therefore have sorrow, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy." It is God's order - sorrow the portal to joy. The darkness first, then the light; tribulation here, then the kingdom; discipline here, then the glory. God's secret place is darkness. The pavilion round about him are "dark waters and thick clouds " - the dark waters of sorrow, the thick clouds of baffling enigma and unfathomable mystery. But inside this pavilion of darkness and cloud there is always a brightness (Psalm 18:11, 12). This brightness is the unchanging love of him who is "the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person." Under his shadow the dark waters and thick clouds will all in due time disperse. Yes, every thick cloud and every dark waterflood will melt before his love, who is "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." Before the air can be cleared and the calm stillness of nature be felt, the thunder-clouds must gather and the lightning-flash be seen. The stillness of nature comes heralded by tokens of terror. It is the order of God, both in nature and grace. We see the darkness first, and call it "Jabez." We meet with bereavement and write "Jabez" upon it, though God makes it a blessed means of drawing us to fix our affections on a world that can never pass away. We meet with disappointment and vexation and worry, and write "Jabez" upon one thing after another. Yet all these things come out, in the wonder-working of God's providence, in the deep riches of his grace, as dealings "more honourable," as blessings in disguise. They are the discipline of his hand, bringing glory to him and blessing to our own souls.
"Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face." And what is the prominent feature in the character of this man of God noticed by the Holy Spirit? It is prayer. "And Jabez called upon the God of Israel. Jabez was a man of prayer. In this aspect he is first presented to us. Oh that this was the marked feature in us all! A man of prayer means a man blessed of God. A man of prayer means, in its truest sense, a man of God. It means a marked man - one distinguished from others by communion with God, and carrying that mark about him in all his least and greatest acts. This is the man on whom the Holy Spirit loves to linger, and singles him out from a mere mass of genealogies that have nothing worthy of notice, and holds him before us for a moment as the one whom the King delighteth to honour." But on whom did Jabez call? Not on God; not on abstract deity; not on some "unknown God" - some almighty abstraction whom we are for ever groping after, but whom we can never know. No; this is the atheist's god, the Socinian's god, the rationalist's god, the god of all men who know not God in Christ. Jabez knew better. He "called on the God of Israel " - the covenant God, the God of his .fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The saints of the Old Testament had one expression with regard to God which corresponded exactly with the expression used by the saints of the New Testament. The latter knew God as "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ;" the former knew God as the "God of Israel," the "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." And these two meant exactly the same. The God in covenant, and keeping that covenant for ever; the God who called his people out of the idolatry of heathenism; who" accounts" them righteous before him; who separates them from the world to be his people; who loves them, and keeps them, and causes them to inherit the land; and who does all this, not because of their deservings, but because of his own rich mercy. This is the "God of Israel," the "God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." And Jabez knew this God. He addresses him as One with whom he is .familiar; he values his blessing above all others; he feels the need of his "hand," his presence, continually; he feels the need of being "kept," and feels that God only can keep him; he feels his own liability to evil, and casts himself, in the conviction of his weakness, upon him. Oh, surely Jabez was no ordinary child of God! - W.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.