Honorable Jabez; Wise God
Today’s reading: 1 Chronicles 2:3-4:23
My selection: I Chronicles 4:9-10
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” 10 Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.
My reflections: The writer of Chronicles gives priority to David’s lineage as the exiles returning from captivity would want to be clear on the royal line. This line ultimately ends in Jesus Christ, the King Eternal. Meanwhile we see that two kinds of people get special attention in the genealogy: the very evil and the very godly. An example of the former is Er, whom the Lord put to death (2:3). An example of the latter was Jabez in the passage cited.
The best selling book, The Prayer of Jabez, makes it difficult to ignore Jabez as we read through this passage. Jabez’ name sounds like the Hebrew word for pain. He was said to be more honorable than his brothers. He certainly is an example for us as one who prayed that God might bless him and keep him from painful harm or evil despite the painful birth he had had.
But the focus of this passage should not be so much on Jabez as on God who granted his prayer. God is able to turn the circumstances of our lives for good. He is gracious to answer the prayers of His people. But He does not always answer prayers in the affirmative. He may answer with “yes”, “no” or “not now.”
We err if we think that Jabez’ prayer was answered because he used the right formula. We err even more if we think that by repeating the prayer of Jabez we will automatically get the same results. The God of Israel and Jabez answers prayers on the basis of His wisdom, grace, and love. He is not a celestial vending machine which will always deliver a cold drink when we deposit four quarters.
My challenge: Praise God that He is wiser than we are and that He will always give His children good things even if they are not the things we think are good. Make prayer to God your way of life but do not trust in your prayers. Trust in God.
Tomorrow’s reading: 1 Chronicles 4:24-5:26