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the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 4

Expositor's Dictionary of TextsExpositor's Dictionary

Verses 1-43

The Prayer of Jabez. The Man

1 Chronicles 4:10

Here we have a very short biography of a very notable, character; there is no long preface to it, no long drawn-out description of what sort of man Jabez was, no flowery description of wonderful virtues and attainments, as are many biographies of Christian men which are too much shorn of the infirmities of the creature, and therefore too much dressed with human wisdom to be of very much use, although they seem to be very taking at times.

I. His mother called his name Jabez, or 'Sorrowful,' for special reasons; 'I bare him with sorrow,' that is, the circumstances connected with his birth were of an afflictive kind. The Lord's representation compels me to say that Jabez beginning in sorrow is typical or representative of the true breathings of the soul after the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Don't think I mean that religious people ought to go about with long-drawn faces; nothing of the sort. I would not discourage some soul that manifests its inward grief by the look of the countenance, but the principle of the thing remains the same, we do not believe in affecting an exterior which has not corresponding reality in spirit.

II. We read of him that he was 'a more honourable man than his brethren'. The best thing to do is to define the word 'honourable' by noticing what Jabez's real principle was as expressed in this prayer so acceptable to God. I should say of him that he was a man separated unto the service of God; a man that could not walk with the men of his generation; could find no consolation with them in his spirit in their idolatry and half-hearted practices; he turned his back on that idolatry and pride which was so predominant in the service of God.

The Prayer of Jabez The Prayer

1 Chronicles 4:10

Prayer must be more or less a matter of continual exercise with godly souls, because it is the attainment of the latter part of the verse we are after, God's granting of our request. Saying prayers can never satisfy a living soul, however rightly they are said; telling out the needs of the soul can never satisfy a hungry or thirsty spirit after God, whatever liberty may be granted in the telling out of the need. It is God's answer, God's response, which is needed.

I. The Person Jabez prays unto. To whom does he direct this simple, heartfelt supplication? The God of Israel. It is very important that we be asking our hearts: To whom do we direct our prayers? Have we an intelligent apprehension of the Person we address? or is our religion mere idolatry? A most important question is this: To whom do we direct our prayers?

( a ) It is a personal Being we address if we are alive from the dead. Certainly an unsearchable Being, whose existence we cannot penetrate, whose glorious attributes strike us dumb, and blind us if we look upon them in their brightness, and yet, one has said 'A known God none the less' although incomprehensible.

( b ) We worship the Three One God of Israel as One possessed of eternal attributes and perfections; and when we think of His holiness and His majesty what a great God He becomes to us! How we desire to put off the shoes of carnality and lightness, and stand in awe of Him!

( c ) But the God of Israel Whom Jabez worshipped is also represented to us as our Benefactor, our Friend and Counsellor, Who not only loves His people to trust Him, but has asked them to put Him to the test

II. Let us look at the prayer itself a little.

( a ) First, it is a heartfelt, fervent utterance, and because it is a heartfelt, fervent utterance it is not a long string of human sentences. It is for the want of heart-feeling our prayers are so long at times. The more of awe and reverence of God there is, the more careful will be the speech.

( b ) Then it is a very pointed direct appeal. Now, that is the beginning of real worship. It does not end there. If you have been brought thus before the living God to worship Him as if you are the only needy sinner on earth, presently when you have obtained His mercy, having proved Him, you will be anxious about others; you will want them brought into the same favoured position as you have been yourself blessed to occupy.

III. Jabez wanted blessing from God. What do we conceive to be blessing?

( a ) We cannot get along without some witness of the forgiveness of our sins. Until we get some witness of that in our souls we are afraid to ask God for anything. Because our sin comes up between; continual iniquities prevail against the poor coming sinner.

( b ) Some of us feel desirous of asking the God of Israel to give us constancy. All our religion has to be tried and tested, and has to go through the fire.

( c ) We conceive a spiritual blessing to be the chastening of the Lord. We are made to know very much of the deceitfulness of our hearts, the perils and the dangers and the seductive influences of this dying world which lieth in wickedness; and we feel it would be a dreadful thing to be left without Divine correction.

References. IV. 17. J. M. Neale, Occasional Sermons, p. 116. IV. 22. Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 33.

The Royal Kinship of Service

1 Chronicles 4:23

Work is the law of life, whether for king or for peasant.

I. Service links men with kings. In the story of our text we find potters and gardeners and people who trimmed the hedges all associated with the king. They dwelt with him for his work. So Christian service links us with God and Christ. 'We are workers together with God.' If we are associated with Christ in service, then we catch His spirit, and the things which most interest Him become of most importance to us. The Christian's business life must of necessity be mastered and controlled by Christ. The presence of the king must dominate his business as well as every other department of his life.

II. Fellowship with Christ strengthens us for service, rescues us from selfishness, and gives us the broader horizon. Selfishness is the most fruitful cause of discouragement and discomfort. The most disagreeable and unpleasant tasks which duty thrusts upon us, if entered upon with a sincere love for Christ and a desire to help on His kingdom and forward His cause, will be transfigured and ere long become beautiful to us, and be to us a source of joy for their own sake.

III. It is only by dwelling with the King and sharing His service that we may be sure that at the end we shall have light and peace. The men or the women who give themselves up to the mere worldly pleasures which appeal to the senses and minister to their gratification are preparing for an old age which will be utterly empty and miserable, when once the senses have lost their capacity to be stimulated into action. The man who thinks he will have peace because he has laid by great stores of wealth has his answer in the Rich Fool of Christ's Gospel. He who gives himself to self-indulgence is hatching out a brood of scorpions that in the end will sting him with remorse.

L. A. Banks, Sermons which have Won Souls, p. 41.

References. IV. 23. J. M. Neale, Occasional Sermons, p. 73. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxii. No. 1400. Ibid. Morning by Morning, p. 155. IV. 38. J. Thomas, Myrtle Street Pulpit, vol. iii. p. 61.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 4". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/1-chronicles-4.html. 1910.
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