Summary: Jabez' mother named him 'Sorrow,' but the LORD kept this man of prayer from experiencing it. We ought to pray faithfully to God, asking Him to help us in any weighty task and to bring about what is dear to our hearts and according to His will.
In the book of 1 Chronicles, there is a man given honor in the middle of a genealogy of very important people, including many kings. His name is short, so we don't have a Maher-shalal-hash-baz. We have Jabez, essentially pronounced "Ya-Bates" in Hebrew. Many have looked over these few verses and their significance to our lives, but his name is known by many from this short blurb from Scripture.
Bruce Wilkinson wrote a book in 2000 called The Prayer of Jabez. It is a very short book, just as this passage, but it patterns a prayer life themed after Jabez. He's written many other books which are much more exegetical, but he's sold 20 million copies of The Prayer of Jabez. People are interested! Jabez must have done something right. With that in mind, I want to look at the text from Scripture today and discuss some basic principles that Jabez prayed for and study more about this 'honorable' man --
Jabez asked for:
Gracious Blessing - Unmerited Favor; That he would receive presents directly from God
Granted Fruitfulness - Prosperity as he follows God
God's Presence - For God to be with him
God's Protection - For God to shelter him from various frustrations, both naturally and spiritually
And you know what? God honored his prayer!
We will read verses 9-10:
9 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain."
10 Jabez 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.
The significance of a name...
Why do we name our children a certain way in this culture?
- A movie star that we like has the same name (euphoric reason)
- The name sounds good (euphonic reason)
- The name is a family name (carrying on lineage) or has sentimental value of some sort
- The parents want to do something 'unique' at the expense of their children. Sometimes the kids will dig it, but thankfully, adults can change their names legally.
Some of these are urban myths:
- Lemonjello and Orangello - wouldn't it be ridiculous for a mother to name her children after her two favorite types of gelatin?
But many are legitimate:
Mark Lemongello (of 1970s fame)
Family name, but he was a pitcher for the Astros
Three of Frank Zappa's kids: Dweezil Motorhead, Moon Unit, Diva Thin (Gail and Ahmet are the other two)
Jermaine Jackson's son: Jermajesty
Ima Hogg, daughter of Governor James Hogg of Texas
(See Snopes' Names page, http://www.snopes.com/racial/language/names.asp )
Thankfully, women take the man's last name when they marry!
Bill Lear's daughter (founded the Learjet plane line for both military and civilian use in the 50s)
Is a name just a way of distinguishing between entities? In some ways, any name is a way for us to remember the person as a whole. In Hebrew culture, it was essentially a motto for life. It could be a declaration of God's attributes: