Now the book begins the genealogies of the twelve tribes.
First is Judah. I'm reading along, trying to stay interested, and then I run into the prayer from Jabez. I'm sure everyone's seen it. It's in cards and on plaques. Because it seems to offer some promise of enrichment and prosperity. But I don't remember reading it in context before-although I guess I should have...
Why did Ezra drop this gem in the middle of pages and pages of genealogy?
The Prayer of Jabez
And Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother named him Jabez saying, 'Because I bore him with pain.'
Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, 'Oh that Thou wouldst bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that Thou might be with me, and that Thou would keep me from harm, that it may not pain me!'
And God granted him what he requested.I Chronicles 4:10
There's a lot to unpack in this one little verse, stranded in a sea of begats. And the genealogy picks right back up after this. No transitions. Just back to the list. So what's here. I don't have an overarching conclusion (yet?), but here are some observations.
- Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. That does not indicate that he was honorable. It doesn't say blameless or righteous. Just more honorable than his brothers. And still, God answered his prayer. Makes me want to ask 'why?' again.
- I think the answer is...we don't know. And that is why God admonishes us in Matthew 7. "Don't judge." and "Remove the plank from your own eye."
- Jabez' mom doesn't sound like a prize and we know his brothers didn't win the honorable prize. Jabez seems like he might labeled 'at-risk' in today's society. God knew exactly what Jabez was contending with and how much he overcame to be as honorable as he was. God was pleased enough with what he saw to answer Jabez' prayers.
- That's how we have to consider those around us. God knows their heart and their condition in a way we never could.
- In college someone broke this down similar to the Lord's Prayer, into categories we can all use as a daily prayer template. I don't remember that formula, but let's break it down and take a look:
- Oh that Thou wouldst bless me indeed, I guess one way this could be seen to parallel the Lord's Prayer is by starting off proclaiming where the blessings come from- The Lord.
- and enlarge my border, So, Jabez had land. Maybe a portion of an inheritance. That would be how he provided for himself and his family. Larger border; more prosperity (ostensibly). However, in our New Testament world, we could now take this to ask to increase our mission field. Our reach with the gospel. Lord, open up the reach You have for me with the gifts you gave me.
- and that Thou might be with me, I wonder, just personal opinion, if this is the part that caused the Lord to answer Jabez' prayer. Jabez wanted the Lord to be with him. While he did make several requests for his own good; he also wanted the Lord to be with him. The Lord created us for fellowship with Him. And most of us crash through our days on our own. Jabez wanted God with him during his days. And I hunger for the same. He is with us. We should tune into that.
- and that Thou would keep me from harm, This makes sense.
- that it may not pain me! There aren't a lot of exclamation points in the Bible. So I always try to take note when one makes it in. I think we see from it that Jabez was passionate in his prayer. this wasn't a quiet, polite dinner prayer. Jabez knew God was his only hope for protection and defense. I'm bad about this one. I want to ensure my protection on top of whatever God has for me and I want to rescue others. If I would stop and trust the Lord...maybe He would answer my prayers as He did Jabez.
I guess my conclusion would be that this isn't the Lord's Prayer. Not enough focus on God's holiness and His Will. But it is Jabez' Prayer. And one we can all relate to. We do want to be blessed and prosper and be protected. And we do all want God to be with us (whether we know it or not). And God does answer those prayers when we ask, if they align with His will.
Maybe scholars can glean more from this with word analysis and such; but I see a sincere man, doing the best in his circumstances and reaching out to God for help. And God answered. That's a pretty comforting and encouraging thought.
And I still don't know why Ezra included this. I know it was inspired by God. And I know it's well placed to break up the begats. But I'm guessing there is more here. Either this was a well known story at the time, so it needed to be included to explain something or God just wanted to remind us that He does answer prayers for those who seek Him.
For the rest of the chapter, it's mostly the genealogy, but there are these little gems dropped in without explanation.
- v 14...for they were craftsmen
- v 17 ...sons of Bithia the daughter of the Pharoh......
- v 18 ...and his Jewish wife bore him...
- v 22 And the records are ancient.
These little clues that tell me there's more to the story; but the details didn't make it in. It makes me long to dig into the scriptures. Graph these genealogies. Understand everything He's given to us to know.
But my alarm went off and it's time for work...which is a blessing I would not forsake. Especially in these ties of crisis.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.