*Verses in italics taken from 1 Chronicles 4:9,10
I've not studied the prayer of Jabez much before, but it intrigues me. It seems slightly random in the midst of a long genealogy, which implies to me that it must have great significance, important enough to interrupt what was being written.
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, 'Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.'
God has many names. Maybe this isn't significant, but I find it interesting that Jabez cried out to the God of Israel. Not the Lord Almighty, but God of Israel. Jabez made it personal; he cried out to the God of his heritage, the God who made a covenant with his ancestor, Israel.
I like his request also. He asks for God's blessing, for life abundant, but what's more is that he solicits God's presence-- Let your hand be with me.
But the most interesting part to me is Jabez's last petition-- and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain. The reason this means so much has to do with Jabez's name. Jabez is very similar to the Hebrew word for pain.
His mother had named him Jabez, saying, 'I gave birth to him in pain.'
Jabez's plea is to be free from pain, free from his born identity. In this request, I see Jabez's desire to be free from his past and his destined future from birth. Though his mother named him pain, Jabez wants a new name, a new future.
I, too, was born with an inherited name: Sinner. And like Jabez, I can cry out to the God of Israel, the God who made a covenant to redeem sinners and place enmity between sin and His children. I can entreat God to bless me with life abundant, to grace me with His presence, and to grant me freedom from sin.
And God granted [Jabez's] request.
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it." ~Revelation 2:17