Summary: This is an introductory lesson to a study of the Prayer of Jabez. It focuses on Jabez, his name, and his struggle to overcome the stigma attached to it.


What Is In A Name

I Chronicles 4:9

INTRODUCTION: Some of you may have heard of Wilma Rudolph. She was a successful Olympic athlete in the 1960’s, but most do not know her story. She was born the 16th of 18 children in a poor black family in middle Tennessee, weighing only 4 lbs. and 1 oz. At the age of 4 she contracted polio and lost the use of her left leg. The battle with polio left her weakened and she immediately developed chronic pneumonia and scarlet fever. Even though she managed to survive those deadly diseases, she spent the bulk of her childhood as a cripple. It was only through years of therapy, which her mother carried her to on her one day off a week, and determination that Wilma was able to regain the use of her left leg. She went on to play high school basketball setting a single season record for most points scored: 803 in 25 games. In 1960, Wilma Rudolph represented the United States in the Olympics, which was held in Rome, Italy and she won gold medals in all three of the events in which she competed. In both the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash, she finished at least three yards in front of her closest competitor. She tied the world record in the 100-meter and set a new Olympic record in the 200. And in the 400-meter relay she brought her team from behind to win the gold. At the very least, we can say that Wilma Rudolph rose above her circumstances, her destiny some would call it, to grasp that brass ring and claim a better life. It is that sort of character that we find in an often forgotten man named Jabez. READ TEXT From this brief story we are given a Biblical glimpse into a struggle than many of us know all too well: the struggle for success and honor.


A. Names meant a lot in Biblical times. They often described the hopes a parent had for their child’s future or a decisive event in their lives or a trait that stood out when they first saw their newborn child.

1. Names like Isaac, which means laughter, Jacob, which means usurper, and Esau, which means hairy are examples.

2. Sometimes the name was deemed so important that God would step in and name the child himself. Emmanuel, from Isaiah 7, which means God with us, and changing Jacob’s name to Israel which means God strives and Jesus which means Jehovah is salvation.

B. Knowing this we can begin to imagine the burden Jabez must have borne with his name. Scripture says that his mother gave birth to him in pain. A literal translation of the text tells us that she agonized during birth with sorrow and pain.

1. What it was exactly we do not know. Prolonged labor, born breech, born out of wedlock, or abandoned by the father. Whatever it was she made the decision to never forget the trauma by giving her son a name that literally meant "sorrow, grief, pain."

2. In the eyes of many, this sealed his fate. Jabez was destined to either be a man or pain and sorrow or one who would inflict pain and sorrow upon others. Not a very bright future was it?

3. He could have very easily given up on life and no one would have blamed him. He was a man with no hope and no future, constantly reminded of the tragedy of his life every time some one called his name.

4. Yet, Jabez took the challenge head on and rose above the name he had been saddled with. Our text tells us he was more honorable that his brothers. Defined, that term means trustworthy, respected, worthy of glory and honor.

C. Jabez decided to live a life exactly opposite of what his name called for. He excelled in the good things, the pleasant things of life. He gained honor, respect, even love by the way he conducted his life and the manner in which he served his God.

{The lesson for us is this:}


A. I think you know what I mean. Society thinks that the right name equals rightful success and honor. Such names as Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, and Gould to name a few. The Christians in Corinth were struggling with this same problem (I Corinthians 1:12).

1. In religious circles the same mentality prevails. Graham, Wesley, Smith, Young are a few names that are bantered around. (Our brotherhood is often caught up in this claim to rightful success and superior spirituality?) Paul confessed that he too had once claimed such (Philippians 3:4-7).

2. This is what is often called the right Pedigree. Coming from the right stock, the right training, and the right tutelage with the right associations in life. All come together to bring success and honor.

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