1 Chronicles 4:9-10
And Jabez was more honorable than his brothers: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bore him with sorrow.…
We come upon this little history of Jabez with a kind of surprise, as one who, travelling through a rocky and mountainous country, comes all at once upon some little green dell, watered with streams and filled with beauty. Observe —
I. JABEZ CALLED UPON THE GOD OF ISRAEL. He declared himself a religious man, a worshipper of the true God. It was the habit of his life. He was known by this. This still lies at the foundation of individual prosperity and goodness of the highest kind — personal religion, calling upon God. A man whose soul never "calls," never cries, never looks, never waits upon God, is not living to the end for which a man should live; he is not truly living at all. Man is raised above the brutes, in that he alone of all the creatures is so endowed that he stands consciously before the face of the personal God, to reverence, serve, worship, and adore the unseen Being.
II. Calling, WHAT DOES JABEZ SAY? "Oh that Thou wouldest bless me indeed." This prayer is not very definite, but perhaps it is all the better, u expressive of many a condition of life, and especially the state of one who is just beginning to pray. In conscious sin and guilt, in weakness, confusion, and fear, a man knows not what to say. Then, bethinking him that God is greater than his heart and knoweth all things, and will therefore give interpretation to all the misery, penitence, longing, love; that He will hear the groanings that cannot be uttered; that He will take dim thought for words; the man is content, and with a cry of relief, as well as earnestness, he says, "Oh that Thou wouldest bless me indeed!"
III. BUT THERE IS SOMETHING MORE DEFINITE IMMEDIATELY, "AND ENLARGE MY COAST." He prays for more territory to his people and himself, more power, more wealth. These are what we should call earthly and temporal blessings. The best men of the Old Testament did not distinguish between temporal and spiritual as we do. Life was a spiritual unity to these men. When a man's sins are pardoned, and his life rectified, when his soul is nourished by the blessing of God, one cannot but think the more that man has the better. Let him be enlarged. No doubt an expanding life multiplies dangers, but it also multiplies grace if it be expansion on the right principle. When a penurious man makes money, that is not enlargement in the grand sense at all. He is building a prison, and himself will be the prisoner. An old man in his last illness was received at one of the metropolitan hospitals. He was without relations or friends, and to all appearance without resources. But a bag of money was found round his neck. When death had apparently claimed him, a nurse gently unfastened the string and removed the bag. At the same moment the old man opened his eyes and felt instinctively for his treasure, which was no longer in its place. He uttered the word, "Gone!" and died. The money amounted to £174, the accumulation, no doubt, of many years. But was that man "enlarged" as the process went on? He was narrowed and crippled. Every golden piece he put into that bag was adding to the weight he carried, in more senses than one, until it became a millstone about his neck and drowned him in death. From many a death-bed there goes up that old man's sigh, "Gone!" money "gone;" houses "gone"
; broad acres "gone"; name and fame "gone." All that has been striven for through a lifetime "gone." Ah! poor fatal enlargement that ends in such collapse. The true enlargement is such, that such a catastrophe as that is quite impossible. The man with soul enlarged never sighs in life or death "Gone!" He has chosen the good part that shall not be taken away.
IV. THE SUMMING UP OF THE PRAYER. "And that Thy hand might be with me, and that Thou mightest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me." So let us seek preservation from evil inward and outward, by watchfulness, by prayer, by dependence on God, and we need never fear enlargement. Let it go on without limit and without fear, if it goes on thus banked in on either hand by Divine blessing and Divine care.
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.