“And Jabez was more honorable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested” (1 Chron. 4:9-10).
It is nothing less than the sacred, gracious power of God that moves a sinner to worship God in spirit and in truth. That working of the mighty power of God, according to which we are made believers in Jesus Christ our Savior, is put forth in the soul in vital teaching. It is that teaching that lives in us, moves us in things pertaining to God, brings forth fruit in us, yes, moulds us to worship the Lord our God in spirit and in truth. Christ saith, “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (John 6:45).
And Jabez was more honorable than his brethren.” In the highest sense he was such because he was the workmanship of Jehovah’s grace, and thus in his life and conversation he showed forth the praise of the Lord. He was one whom the King of Kings delighted to honor. He was an Israelite indeed; and of such God saith, “Since thou was precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee” (Isaiah 43:4). He honored God, for he called upon the God of Israel; and this was all of God’s grace.
“And his mother called him Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.” In sorrow she brought him forth, doubtless there were other sorrows than her travail in childbirth that she had. “I bare him with sorrow.” All the family of God, in time appointed of our heavenly Father, have their sorrows, even such griefs as are peculiar to the household of God, and Jabez, a child of sorrow, in his prayer gives us intimations of these sorrows. Child of God, are you sorrowful? It will be well in your grieved soul to think of Him, the Incarnate Son of God, who preeminently was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. There are no griefs and sorrows, though ever so bitter and deep, that the members of Christ body experience, but Christ our Head knows, and fellowship and succor and strong consolation are found with him for all that believe in him. He is our great and merciful High Priest upon his throne; let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. “Jabez called on the God of Israel.” It is a sacred miracle of the grace of God that transgressors of the law of God should be moved to call upon the name of the Lord. It is written, “They shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, The Lord is my God” (Zech. 13-9). In calling upon God there is a looking beyond all human aid. There are conditions that quickened sinners are brought into in which they prove that vain is the help of man. All our resources come short to minister comfort, strength and salvation to poor-perishing sinners. Heady, self-sufficient professor of Christ’s name may sneer at the called of God being called “ready to perish” (Isaiah 27-13), poor, and of a contrite spirit, trembling at the word of the Lord (Isaiah 66:2), nevertheless the children of God, all, at times, feel themselves to be just wretched, needy ones before the Lord, with whom they have to do. How gracious then are the operations of the Holy Spirit that move us to feel after God; we that were enemies, far off from God, alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in us because of the blindness of our hearts; yet when God calls such a sinner by his grace he comes into that poor-sinners thoughts, he opens up to us little by little his name, and we think upon, his name, we are drawn to the Lord, wretched and guilty, hell deserving though we be; we flee for refuge to the name of the Lord, so graciously and comfortingly declared unto poor, lost sinners by Jesus the Savior.
We believe that God is, and in our very hearts we believe he is just and holy, almighty, gracious, merciful. Oh that he would be merciful to me, take pity upon me; Oh that he would be my friend and save me. “Jabez called upon the God of Israel.”
The Israelites were a signally favored people. They were the adopted nation of the Lord, to whom belonged the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises. To whom were committed the oracles of God, and of them, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
Jabez prayed to the Lord. A poet has said:
“Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Unuttered or expressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.
“Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear,
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.”
Communion with God is a true indication of the Spiritual health of the child of God. If there is very little intercourse with God, if there are no sighs and longings, cries and praises in the soul unto God, then we are in a languishing low condition indeed. No matter how a man may be talking or preaching about this and that doctrine, and no matter how constant may be the attendance at the assemblies of the church, if communion with God languishes what health can there be in the soul toward Christ? And that professor of Christ’s name who has had no heart to heart communion with the Lord, and thus in his heart has nothing to do with God, how can he know God, and Jesus Christ the Savior? And where are the evidences that he is known of God? This is the language of the new covenant, “I will give them a heart to know me” (Jer. 24:7). And they shall all know me from the least unto the greatest of them, signifies that they shall have a vital knowledge of the God of their salvation, even unto the blessedness of crying Abba, Father. O it is so essential that we poor sinners should thus know the Lord our God, for so much we need his help, compassion, and forgiveness every day. Hypocrites and carnal professors have no such needs, and they know not God.
“Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed.” This is a sweet comprehensive prayer, suitable to all conditions that a child of God may be in.
This is the heart crying out unto God. There is such a God-wrought fervency in it. Contemplate the exclamation, “Oh,” (not O): It is the wish, the yearning of the heart; and the word “indeed,” which means, in very truth, that the blessing of the Lord may be upon me, that it may be my possession, my meat and my drink, my life forevermore. Though a sinner should gain the whole world and lack the blessing of God, he would lack everything, for all things without this blessing of the Lord fade and perish, and end in utter vanity.
Look at a sinner, a vile transgressor; he is under the curse of the law, he is alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in him because of the blindness of his heart, the wrath of God abideth upon him. Such is the testimony of the scriptures concerning a sinner. How can the blessing of God come upon such a creature? This blessedness cometh upon us through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, our everlasting covenant Head, in whom God hath blessed us with all Spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Eph. 1:3). Christ, the Fountain of all blessings, is our Redeemer King enthroned upon the holy hill of Zion, and there the Lord commandeth the blessing, even life forevermore. So in this comprehensive, fervent prayer, “Oh that thou wouldest blest me indeed,” is the hearts entreaty of a sinner called by God’s grace that such blessings as God hath treasured up in, Christ for his loved ones may be bestowed upon wretched, sinful, hell-deserving me. Oh, that forgiveness, peace and reconciliation may be mine. “Remember me, O Lord, with the favor that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation; that I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance.” The child of God, in ways without number, finds the need of God’s blessing. This is peculiarly felt in time of temptations, and when the way is felt to he in desert places, and when afflictions, persecutions, false tongues would do us mischief. Then how needful and much desired is the blessing of our heavenly Father, that we may be upheld and walk humbly in faith and love with our God. “Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed.”
Let thy doctrine drop as the rain and distill as the dew upon me, a poor sinner; let there be a plentiful rain to refresh my weary soul; let there be showers of blessing (Ezek. 34:26). Then I shall be fruitful and glorify thee in my body and Spirit, which are thine. Then I will fear no evil, and say of my foes, Let them curse, but bless thou me, O my God. That prayer of Jacob’s is importunate, and vehement indeed. We are told he wept and made supplication (Hosea 12:4), and thus he cried, “I will not let thee go except thou bless me” (Gen. 32:26). The blessing of the God of Israel is sought for by needy sinners as the pearl of real price. The blessing of the Lord maketh us rich, and he added no sorrow with it. “Oh that thou wouldest enlarge my coast.”
This could not mean that he desired of God a more extensive ownership of land than fell to his lot when Joshua divided the land among the tribes of Israel, for according to the laws of Moses regarding the ownership of land there could, only under exceptional circumstances, be any increased possession of land, by purchase, or otherwise, and then in the year of jubilee it returned again to the original owner, or his heirs.
But I think that, in the temporal aspect of his petition, it arose out of the circumstances and times in which he lived. Jabez felt to be straitened in his present circumstances, and sought the blessing of the Lord that he would enlarge his coast, that the Lord would give him an entrance into and actual possession of his allotment in the promised land – the lot of his inheritance, which was his from God as an Israelite and the next clause appears to sustain this thought: “That thine hand might be with me.” There were Canaanites in the land, and the tribes of Jacob had to drive them out in order to have peaceable possession of their allotted inheritance. Read the whole first chapter of Judges. Here are a few verses of it: “Now, after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them? And the, Lord said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand. And Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise wilt go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him.” We see in these verses a picture of brotherly helpfulness.
The people of God are members one of another, and the church of Christ is unto the edifying of itself in love. You will see in this chapter in Judges the difficulties that then were to be encountered when the tribes of Israel sought the enlargement of the coasts, and some, for a time, failed to fully and peacefully possess the lot of their inheritance. Jabez appealed unto the God of Israel to enlarge his coast: Let thine hand be with me. Listen to the song sung in after days by Israel : “We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days in the times of old. How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them; how thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out. For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them; but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favor unto them” (Psalm 44:1-3).
The Spiritual Israel of God often find in the spirit Jabez prayer in their hearts: “Oh that thou wouldest enlarge my coast, and that thy hand might be with me.”
We would go on and on to enter into the unsearchable riches of Christ. For all the land of promise, of our inheritance by faith, and of our ultimate eternal glory hereafter, is in and with our Head, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God. “That I may know him” (Phil. 3:10). “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” There are many professors of Christ’s name who possess only a map of the land of Israel , and this suffices them. They can talk about the land of promise like a scholar who has studied his geography. Up there are the forests and mountains of Lebanon; here are mountains dropping new wine, there are the valleys, brooks and streams, olive yards and vineyards, villages and cities, fortresses and palaces. But they have never been there; they have never entered the land, not a step by faith have they taken therein. Their feet have not stood within thy gates, O Jerusalem . Thither the tribes of Israel go up, the tribes of the Lord, to give thanks at the remembrance; of all this they have no experience. But the bare statements of what the holy scriptures declare concerning the things of Christ alone do not suffice the quickened sinner, neither can a child of God be satisfied to wander through the land as a foreigner, an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, but he longs to have his portion therein, to blessedly realize, This is the land of my inheritance. He longs to eat freely of the fruits of the land, the bread and honey, milk and wine of Christ’s gospel. He yearns to have, he feels he must have more than a map, the mere geography of the land of promise, that the gospel of Christ may be known not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost and in much assurance. Carnal professors of Christ’s name appropriate all the good things of the gospel; they find no opposition to their doing so, and need no assistance to enlarge their coasts unto the uttermost bounds of salvation, sonship and eternal glory. Such exploits are very easy matters with those who are not of God, but with the children of God it is otherwise; they find they have need to be often unto their God in prayer. “Oh that thou wouldest enlarge my coast, that Thy hand might be with me.” It is a strait gate into the path of life, and it is only through much tribulation that the child of God enters and possesses the Kingdom. We read, “The Canaanites would dwell in that land” (Judges 1:27). Giants, the sons of Anak, were there, and their cities built up to heaven, and much fighting had to be endured to dispossess them. The Canaanites are not in the precious things of Christ, but they are in our flesh, and they are ever our enemies, opposing and hindering the enlargement of our coast. Through fire and water we are brought into a wealthy place, and it is amidst the buffetings of Satan that the power of Christ shall rest upon us (Psalm 66:12; 2 Cor. 12:7-10).
The Holy Spirit of promise in his new covenant ministrations give unto the heirs of promise earnests of their inheritance, unto which they are predestinated, according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. These foretastes are so blessed that our souls reach after more and more to know what is the height and depth, and length and breadth of Jehovah’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord. There are times when the heart is enlarged (Psalm 119:32), and the hand of the Lord is with us to mortify our members which are upon earth; to crucify the flesh with the affections and the lusts. This crucifying of the Canaanites is no mere pastime, but it is only by much prayer, by much grace given us; it is amidst sighs and moans and wrestlings and many fervent cries to the Lord for his hand to be with us that the corruptions of our flesh, our unbelief, the opposition of the devil, are overcome. At all such times we are having our coast enlarged. We are growing up into him in all things, learning how suitable, precious and glorious Jesus is unto us vile sinners. We follow on to know the Lord, whose going forth is prepared as the morning and He, in our faith’s enlarged vision of the characters he sustains unto his people, comes unto us as the latter and former rain upon the earth (Hosea 6:3), and thus we poor sinners thrive amidst the goodness of the Lord our God.
“Oh that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me.” Christ taught his disciples to pray after this manner: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” And in his prayer to the Holy Father he thus intercedes in behalf of his own; “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from evil.” All that is evil is a grief to the quickened sinner. In this the children of God are manifest. Being born incorruptible seed, by the word of God, which liveth an abideth forever, made partakers of the divine nature and have the Spirit of Christ; God has written his law in their heart, and thus they delight in the law after the inward man, and we would never, never do that which is evil in the sight of God, our heavenly Father. This is very explicitly taught in Rom. 7:19: “For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” The Holy Spirit gives the quickened sinner a tender conscience, and all the uprisings of evil within grieve him. He often sighs and mourns, and loathing himself he cries unto his God to be kept from all that is evil in the eyes of Him who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and who cannot look on iniquity (Hab. 1:3). O, sin is ever abhorrent to such as are born of God, therefore it is no marvel when they feel the dreadful workings of the law of sin in their members they cry out, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death.”
“And God granted him that which he requested.” Jesus told his disciples that “men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” What a sacred privilege is thine, O child of God, to pour out your heart unto the Lord. Here lies our safety in living in much communion with our merciful gracious God. Oh to walk humbly with our God. He will sustain and revive us in our pilgrimage, and dear children of God, we find nothing so blessedly keeps us from evil as to have the crucified Savior revealed in our hearts. Oh to be looking unto Jesus! One look of love from the Lamb of God, one sin pardoning word from his lips to a poor sinner plagued with evil, and the power of evil is broken, it shall not have dominion over us, for we are under the grace of Christ, our king, our Friend and Savior.
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”
Frederick W. Keene
Raleigh , N.C.
THE LONE PILGRIM,
Pages 140 thru 150.
Signs of the Times
Volume 84, No. 18.
September 15, 1916