Monday, October 28, 2013

Let's Pray The Prayer Of Jabez

1 Chronicles 4:1-43 NIV

Other Clans of Judah

1The descendants of Judah:
Perez, Hezron, Karmi, Hur and Shobal.

2Reaiah son of Shobal was the father of Jahath, and Jahath the father of Ahumai and Lahad. These were the clans of the Zorathites.

3These were the sonsa of Etam:
Jezreel, Ishma and Idbash. Their sister was named Hazzelelponi. 4Penuel was the father of Gedor, and Ezer the father of Hushah.
These were the descendants of Hur, the firstborn of Ephrathah and fatherb of Bethlehem.

5Ashhur the father of Tekoa had two wives, Helah and Naarah.

6Naarah bore him Ahuzzam, Hepher, Temeni and Haahashtari. These were the descendants of Naarah.

7The sons of Helah:
Zereth, Zohar, Ethnan, 8and Koz, who was the father of Anub and Hazzobebah and of the clans of Aharhel son of Harum.

9 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez,c saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” 10Jabez cried out to the God of Israel,

“Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let Your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.

And God granted his request.

11Kelub, Shuhah’s brother, was the father of Mehir, who was the father of Eshton. 12Eshton was the father of Beth Rapha, Paseah and Tehinnah the father of Ir Nahash.d These were the men of Rekah.

13The sons of Kenaz:
Othniel and Seraiah.
The sons of Othniel:
Hathath and Meonothai.e 14Meonothai was the father of Ophrah.
Seraiah was the father of Joab,
the father of Ge Harashim.f It was called this because its people were skilled workers.

15The sons of Caleb son of Jephunneh:
Iru, Elah and Naam.
The son of Elah:

16The sons of Jehallelel:
Ziph, Ziphah, Tiria and Asarel.

17The sons of Ezrah:
Jether, Mered, Epher and Jalon. One of Mered’s wives gave birth to Miriam, Shammai and Ishbah the father of Eshtemoa. 18(His wife from the tribe of Judah gave birth to Jered the father of Gedor, Heber the father of Soko, and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah.) These were the children of Pharaoh’s daughter Bithiah, whom Mered had married.

19The sons of Hodiah’s wife, the sister of Naham:
the father of Keilah the Garmite, and Eshtemoa the Maakathite.

20The sons of Shimon:
Amnon, Rinnah, Ben-Hanan and Tilon.
The descendants of Ishi:
Zoheth and Ben-Zoheth.

21The sons of Shelah son of Judah:
Er the father of Lekah, Laadah the father of Mareshah and the clans of the linen workers at Beth Ashbea, 22Jokim, the men of Kozeba, and Joash and Saraph, who ruled in Moab and Jashubi Lehem. (These records are from ancient times.) 23They were the potters who lived at Netaim and Gederah; they stayed there and worked for the king.


24The descendants of Simeon:
Nemuel, Jamin, Jarib, Zerah and Shaul;
25Shallum was Shaul’s son, Mibsam his son and Mishma his son.

26The descendants of Mishma:
Hammuel his son, Zakkur his son and Shimei his son.

27Shimei had sixteen sons and six daughters, but his brothers did not have many children; so their entire clan did not become as numerous as the people of Judah. 28They lived in Beersheba, Moladah, Hazar Shual,29Bilhah, Ezem, Tolad, 30Bethuel, Hormah, Ziklag, 31Beth Markaboth, Hazar Susim, Beth Biri and Shaaraim. These were their towns until the reign of David. 32Their surrounding villages were Etam, Ain, Rimmon, Token and Ashan—five towns— 33and all the villages around these towns as far as Baalath.g These were their settlements. And they kept a genealogical record.

34Meshobab, Jamlech, Joshah son of Amaziah, 35Joel, Jehu son of Joshibiah, the son of Seraiah, the son of Asiel, 36also Elioenai, Jaakobah, Jeshohaiah, Asaiah, Adiel, Jesimiel, Benaiah, 37and Ziza son of Shiphi, the son of Allon, the son of Jedaiah, the son of Shimri, the son of Shemaiah.

38The men listed above by name were leaders of their clans. Their families increased greatly, 39and they went to the outskirts of Gedor to the east of the valley in search of pasture for their flocks. 40They found rich, good pasture, and the land was spacious, peaceful and quiet. Some Hamites had lived there formerly.

41The men whose names were listed came in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah. They attacked the Hamites in their dwellings and also the Meunites who were there and completely destroyedh them, as is evident to this day. Then they settled in their place, because there was pasture for their flocks. 42And five hundred of these Simeonites, led by Pelatiah, Neariah, Rephaiah and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi, invaded the hill country of Seir. 43They killed the remaining Amalekites who had escaped, and they have lived there to this day.

Lesson from the Prayer of Jabez

“Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let Your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.

The very situation of this text is worth remarking. It stands in the very middle of genealogies. Why those names are so particularly put on record, or why nothing more besides the name, is not very easy to discover. Perhaps it was to let us see that multitudes of persons live upon the earth of whom, when you have told the name, you have told all that is worth mentioning. Great men they might be in their generations, men of renown in an earthly point of view, and yet, in the Sight of God, insignificant and worthless.

But, however this may be, here is one person, at least, whom the Word of God is not content with barely mentioning. It is said of him that he was "more honorable than his brethren." In whatever other points he was so, in this especially, that, whereas the Holy Spirit barely runs over the names of others, and tells us nothing else of them, when He comes to Jabez He stops short. Something He relates concerning Jabez which He evidently holds forth to our praise and imitation.

What is the fact in the history of Jabez which the Holy Spirit has thought worthy of record? Is it any battle that he fought, or any exploit he performed? is it any proof he gave of earthly wisdom or of earthly policy? No; these are indeed the things which dazzle human eyes and which please the pens of human writers. But not so the Great God. The events He dwells on in the history of Jabez is one which many earthly penmen would have scorned to write of. He takes us to this good man's closet, and tells us of a prayer he offered there. All amidst the multitude of things which are going on upon this earth, amidst the manifold events which man calls great, there is nothing in God's Sight half so considerable as the prayer of a poor humble soul for mercy and acceptance.

The prayer of a Paul, of a Cornelius, of a Jabez — "What trifling matters," says the world, "are these!" But look into God's Book and only see the notice which is taken of these prayers by Him Who made us. Pray like Jabez. Pray, if not in his words, yet in his spirit, and you shall speed like him.

I. We are to consider the IMPORT of the prayer — the nature, I mean, of the petition it contains. There is no doubt but that it issued from the heart, and that it was offered up with holy fervency of spirit. "Jabez called upon the God of Israel," such is the expression used. Something more, you see, he did than merely say the words of prayer. He called or "cried" unto his God. He put his heart into his words, as one in deep and holy earnest. There is a holy vehemence, too, in the very form of his address. "Oh," says he, "that You would do this thing!" And this should be your way of praying. But to come to the language of the prayer.

1. What is the first petition of this earnest suitor at the Throne of Grace? "Oh," says he, "that You would bless me indeed!" Now what sort of blessing does he mean? God has many in His gift. Life itself is a blessing; health is a blessing; and so are food and clothes; so are the friends we mix with and the home which we live in. But it is clearly something beyond these which Jabez asks for. His language is emphatic: "Oh that You would bless me indeed!" As much as to say, "Oh that You would give me Your best, Your truest blessings!" And what are these? Not the short-lived blessings of the body, but the eternal blessings of the soul. Who can say with a good Scripture warrant, "Christ is mine and I am His." He is "blessed indeed" to whom the God of grace has said, "I am your salvation" — with whose spirit the Spirit itself bears witness that he is a child of God" — and "who is kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." These are the choicest gifts of God. Other things are blessings, but they are temporal and transitory, and they "perish with the using." Grace to enjoy here and glory to expect hereafter — let a man have these and he has all. Jabez wanted Jacob's blessing and not Esau's — the birthright, not the pottage. Sure I am, such is the choice of every poor awakened sinner. "Give me Christ and His Cross rather than the world and its crown!"

2. But what is the next thing in the prayer? what does the holy man next ask for? "That You would enlarge my coast," says he. Perhaps this petition was of a temporal nature. Jabez, it is thought, was among those Israelites who went in with Joshua to the holy land and had a portion there assigned to him. If so, it is not unlikely that he was pressed and straitened by the Canaanites around him, and that he begs in this part of his prayer that God would clear the ground for him and give him room enough to dwell in. "Oh, Lord," we may well ask, "enlarge the coast of my poor narrow heart. Give to my thoughts and my desires a wider range." He grieves over the narrowness, the selfishness of his desires. He feels himself, as it were, pent in and circumscribed by things of this world. He is sensible that there is not room enough within him for his God and for his brethren. He longs, therefore, in all these respects to be enlarged to "reach forth unto the things which are before"; to "comprehend with all saints what is the length, and breadth, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge," and to be "filled with all the Fullness of God." Again, here is another point of view in which the Christian seeks after enlargement. "Oh, Lord," he is ever ready to exclaim, "enlarge my usefulness. Make me a more active member of Christ's Body; more abundant in the fruits of righteousness; more devoted to Your work and service; more profitable to my brethren and fellow-creatures!"

3. But we pass on to the next petition in our text: "Oh," says Jabez, "that Yourhand might be with me!" And why does he ask this? Evidently because he was thoroughly persuaded that without the Lord he could do nothing. How exactly in this point do his feelings meet those of all real Christians in the present day! The worldly man goes out in his own strength and trusts in his own arm to help him. Seldom does he feel the need of looking higher than his own wisdom and sagacity and resolution. Whilst the believer thus "goes forth in the strength of the Lord" he can do wonders; but let him at any time forget thus to pray, he is soon made to feel that he is a "man who has no strength."

4. To come now to the last petition of the prayer before us. How does the holy man conclude? Just as his Lord concludes in the prayer which He has taught us to present to Him. "Deliver us from evil" is our last petition in that prayer. And what is the last request of Jabez? "That You would keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me." "Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain." There is safety neither for the soul nor for the body except under the shadow of His wings. Apply this to spiritual evil, and it expresses what is true, what is most eminently true, of every real servant of the Lord — that sin is a thing which grieves him. Natural evil is painful and unwelcome; but the evil of the soul — the evil to which Satan tempts — this is the thing of all others which believers dread. A great deal of sin goes with the world under the name of "pleasure." "But all this," says the believer, "is not pleasure to my soul — it is pain and grief to me."

II. The ANSWER which this prayer received. Answered it was, and answered to the full. "Jehovah granted him that which he requested"; not a part, you observe, but the whole. "That which he requested" — that is to say, all that he requested was bestowed upon him. Now do think over his request. It was a very large one. It comprehended much. He had not trespassed on the Divine bounty which says, "Ask, and you shall have." Let us, then, admire the bountifulness, the abundant mercy of the God whom Jabez called upon. Surely He is a God of faithfulness and truth and love. When has any humble soul ever cried to Him in vain? When has He ever said to the praying "seed of Jacob, Seek Me in vain"? To you who are really "calling on the God of Israel" my text is surely a comfortable and refreshing one. It affords a pledge; it gives, as it were, a promise and assurance — that you will speed in your petitions. The God of Jabez is unchanged, unchangeable — "the same yesterday, today, and forever."

(A. Roberts.)

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