When I said that the Bible was like a treasure chest, I wasn’t kidding! Here amidst boring names and more names in the lineage of the Israelites, the tribes of Judah and King David’s family tree is a simple prayer — the prayer of Jabez. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, but this gem is buried among lists of Jewish ancestral names. Why was this one man singled out? It was because of his simple, yet sincere prayer. Learn how you can pray this prayer that God will answer. Let’s dig in…
1 Chronicles 3
Descendants of David
These are the sons of David who were born in Hebron:
The oldest was Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam from Jezreel.
The second was Daniel, whose mother was Abigail from Carmel.
2 The third was Absalom, whose mother was Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur.
The fourth was Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith.
3 The fifth was Shephatiah, whose mother was Abital.
The sixth was Ithream, whose mother was Eglah, David’s wife.
4 These six sons were born to David in Hebron, where he reigned seven and a half years.
Then David reigned another thirty-three years in Jerusalem. 5 The sons born to David in Jerusalem included Shammua Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon. Their mother was Bathsheba, the daughter of Ammiel. 6 David also had nine other sons: Ibhar, Elishua, Elpelet, 7 Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, 8 Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet.
9 These were the sons of David, not including his sons born to his concubines. Their sister was named Tamar.
Descendants of Solomon
10 The descendants of Solomon were Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, 11 Jehoram, Ahaziah, Joash, 12 Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham, 13 Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, 14 Amon, and Josiah.
15 The sons of Josiah were Johanan (the oldest), Jehoiakim (the second), Zedekiah (the third), and Jehoahaz (the fourth).
16 The successors of Jehoiakim were his son Jehoiachin and his brother Zedekiah.
Descendants of Jehoiachin
17 The sons of Jehoiachin, who was taken prisoner by the Babylonians, were Shealtiel, 18 Malkiram, Pedaiah, Shenazzar, Jekamiah, Hoshama, and Nedabiah.
19 The sons of Pedaiah were Zerubbabel and Shimei.
The sons of Zerubbabel were Meshullam and Hananiah. (Their sister was Shelomith.) 20 His five other sons were Hashubah, Ohel, Berekiah, Hasadiah, and Jushab-hesed.
21 The sons of Hananiah were Pelatiah and Jeshaiah. Jeshaiah’s son was Rephaiah. Rephaiah’s son was Arnan. Arnan’s son was Obadiah. Obadiah’s son was Shecaniah.
22 The descendants of Shecaniah were Shemaiah and his sons, Hattush, Igal, Bariah, Neariah, and Shaphat—six in all.
23 The sons of Neariah were Elioenai, Hizkiah, and Azrikam—three in all.
24 The sons of Elioenai were Hodaviah, Eliashib, Pelaiah, Akkub, Johanan, Delaiah, and Anani—seven in all.1 Chronicles 3 NLT
1 Chronicles 4
Other Descendants of Judah
The descendants of Judah were Perez, Hezron, Carmi, Hur, and Shobal.
2 Shobal’s son Reaiah was the father of Jahath. Jahath was the father of Ahumai and Lahad. These were the families of the Zorathites.
3 The descendants of Etam were Jezreel, Ishma, Idbash, their sister Hazzelelponi, 4 Penuel (the father of Gedor), and Ezer (the father of Hushah). These were the descendants of Hur (the firstborn of Ephrathah), the ancestor of Bethlehem.
5 Ashhur (the father of Tekoa) had two wives, named Helah and Naarah. 6 Naarah gave birth to Ahuzzam, Hepher, Temeni, and Haahashtari. 7 Helah gave birth to Zereth, Izhar, Ethnan, 8 and Koz, who became the ancestor of Anub, Zobebah, and all the families of Aharhel son of Harum.
9 There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. 10 He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.
11 Kelub (the brother of Shuhah) was the father of Mehir. Mehir was the father of Eshton. 12 Eshton was the father of Beth-rapha, Paseah, and Tehinnah. Tehinnah was the father of Ir-nahash. These were the descendants of Recah.
13 The sons of Kenaz were Othniel and Seraiah. Othniel’s sons were Hathath and Meonothai. 14 Meonothai was the father of Ophrah. Seraiah was the father of Joab, the founder of the Valley of Craftsmen, so called because they were craftsmen.
15 The sons of Caleb son of Jephunneh were Iru, Elah, and Naam. The son of Elah was Kenaz.
16 The sons of Jehallelel were Ziph, Ziphah, Tiria, and Asarel.
17 The sons of Ezrah were Jether, Mered, Epher, and Jalon. One of Mered’s wives became the mother of Miriam, Shammai, and Ishbah (the father of Eshtemoa). 18 He married a woman from Judah, who became the mother of Jered (the father of Gedor), Heber (the father of Soco), and Jekuthiel (the father of Zanoah). Mered also married Bithia, a daughter of Pharaoh, and she bore him children.
19 Hodiah’s wife was the sister of Naham. One of her sons was the father of Keilah the Garmite, and another was the father of Eshtemoa the Maacathite.
20 The sons of Shimon were Amnon, Rinnah, Ben-hanan, and Tilon.
The descendants of Ishi were Zoheth and Ben-zoheth.
Descendants of Judah’s Son Shelah
21 Shelah was one of Judah’s sons. The descendants of Shelah were Er (the father of Lecah); Laadah (the father of Mareshah); the families of linen workers at Beth-ashbea; 22 Jokim; the men of Cozeba; and Joash and Saraph, who ruled over Moab and Jashubi-lehem. These names all come from ancient records. 23 They were the pottery makers who lived in Netaim and Gederah. They lived there and worked for the king.
Descendants of Simeon
24 The sons of Simeon were Jemuel, Jamin, Jarib, Zohar, and Shaul.
25 The descendants of Shaul were Shallum, Mibsam, and Mishma.
26 The descendants of Mishma were Hammuel, Zaccur, and Shimei.
27 Shimei had sixteen sons and six daughters, but none of his brothers had large families. So Simeon’s tribe never grew as large as the tribe of Judah.
28 They lived in Beersheba, Moladah, Hazar-shual, 29 Bilhah, Ezem, Tolad, 30 Bethuel, Hormah, Ziklag, 31 Beth-marcaboth, Hazar-susim, Beth-biri, and Shaaraim. These towns were under their control until the time of King David. 32 Their descendants also lived in Etam, Ain, Rimmon, Token, and Ashan—five towns 33 and their surrounding villages as far away as Baalath. This was their territory, and these names are listed in their genealogical records.
34 Other descendants of Simeon included Meshobab, Jamlech, Joshah son of Amaziah, 35 Joel, Jehu son of Joshibiah, son of Seraiah, son of Asiel, 36 Elioenai, Jaakobah, Jeshohaiah, Asaiah, Adiel, Jesimiel, Benaiah, 37 and Ziza son of Shiphi, son of Allon, son of Jedaiah, son of Shimri, son of Shemaiah.
38 These were the names of some of the leaders of Simeon’s wealthy clans. Their families grew, 39 and they traveled to the region of Gerar, in the east part of the valley, seeking pastureland for their flocks. 40 They found lush pastures there, and the land was spacious, quiet, and peaceful.
Some of Ham’s descendants had been living in that region. 41 But during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah, these leaders of Simeon invaded the region and completely destroyed the homes of the descendants of Ham and of the Meunites. No trace of them remains today. They killed everyone who lived there and took the land for themselves, because they wanted its good pastureland for their flocks. 42 Five hundred of these invaders from the tribe of Simeon went to Mount Seir, led by Pelatiah, Neariah, Rephaiah, and Uzziel—all sons of Ishi. 43 They destroyed the few Amalekites who had survived, and they have lived there ever since.1 Chronicles 4 NLT (bold emphasis mine)
Why Was Jabez Singled Out?
Ezra’s objective in chronicling all these family trees was to have a historical, national archive of all the Hebrew people. Notice, too, that though he mentions David and Bathsheba, he doesn’t go into the gory details of King David’s adultery and murder of Bathsheba’s husband. As well as all the wars and family feuds. Obviously, Ezra’s intentions were to encourage the people coming back after 70 years in Babylonian exile. They had 70 years to stew and remember their sins. Some, like Daniel and friends, refused to accept the idolatrous and pagan ways of the Babylonians. They stayed true to God’s teachings and commandments. Unfortunately, they were the exception.
- First, his name means “he causes pain” — apparently, his mom had a painful delivery. That’s a tough name to have to live with.
- Second, he PRAYED.
- Third, he was sincere.
- To “bless” means to show favor. It’s like saying, Lord, please smile when you think of me… remember me when you share your goodness…
- In the NKJV it reads, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed“. He’s not asking for a blessing because he thought he deserved it. The word “indeed” is used to emphasize something. In the original Hebrew, the word “bless” is “bāraḵ” and according to the Blue Letter Bible, the word “indeed” is also bāraḵ! A double blessing!
Pastor Sandy Adams comments…
I look at my life, and how good God’s been, and I too can say, it’s more in spite of me than because of me. This is the case for us all. Whenever God blesses us it’s always the result of His grace not our goodness. Jabez believed in grace and asked God, “would You bless me indeed.” Did you know you could do that? You can actually ask God to bless you!
It sounds so elementary, but I’m not sure some of us get it. I run into believers all the time who seem afraid to ask God for a blessing. They’re afraid that doing so is a selfish act. They’ll ask God to bless their brother and mother – their sister and cousin – the mailman, the clerk, even their football team… everybody but them! I’m sure Jabez prayed for others, but first he prayed, “God bless me!” And did God think he was being selfish?Sandy Adams
Apparently not! Notice, in our text God refers to Jabez, as “more honorable than his brothers.”
2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.James 4:2-3 NLT
- Jabez’ next request is to expand his territory. Another version says, “expand my border”. Back then, the more property a man owned, the bigger his sphere of influence. He wanted to influence his world for God. That should be our prayer, also.
- Then, he prays that God’s hand would be with him. “The hand of God” refers to His strength and power. He prayed for spiritual empowerment. You get that power through the Gift of the Holy Spirit when you become born again. Unfortunately, our own stupid pride gets in the way. We seldom ask for God’s power before we need it! We wait until we’ve tried under our own hands and strength, and only when we’re exhausted do we seek His help. Try it the other way around. Commit each day, week, month, year, project, and task to Him.
- Finally, he prays that God would keep him from “all trouble and pain”. Considering that was his name, he prayed that pain would not follow him around. The NKJV version says, “keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” Which is slightly different.
Pastor Sandy explains…
The greatest danger we face isn’t evil attacking us, but evil attaching to us. Jabez doesn’t pray, “Lord, keep evil from me, but keep me from evil.” Our most lethal enemy isn’t the evil without, but the evil within. It’s my flesh, my warped perspectives, the tastes I’ve cultivated for carnal things, my preoccupation with the temporal and tangible – this is my greatest struggle…
Without question, our greatest threat as servants of God is not Satan, but self. Our constant prayer needs to be, “protect me from myself!” or “keep me from evil.”
And did you know you can pray such a prayer? You can solicit God’s help in your battle against sin! God isn’t just sitting at the judgment seat watching you struggle – waiting to pound the gavel and issue the verdict. Jesus is our advocate. He’s in the trenches with us, obtaining for us the power we need for victory.Sandy Adams
Ultimately, the outcome of Jabez’ prayer was… “And God granted him his request.” God answers sincere and honest prayers! He does!
Personally, I’ve prayed a version of this prayer for years — even before I started this blog and podcast. And, YES, God answered my prayer and He’s answering it everyday!
- God blessed me with a beautiful new home in a wonderful area that I can afford.
- He enlarged by “border”. Each month, people from close to 200 countries read at least one page on this blog. I recently moved it to its own server so that I could add Google Translate to make it easy for people to read the Word of God in their own language.
- I ask the Holy Spirit to empower my writing and speaking each night to produce this blog and podcast for His Glory.
- Health-wise, He’s led me to discover ways to reduce the pain of osteoarthritis. So much so, that I was able to move into a 2-story townhouse.
Try it. Pray this sincerely…
“Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!”1 Chronicles 4:10 NLT
However, keep in mind that God isn’t our magic genie. Remember what James wrote. You don’t get what you ask for because you ask with the wrong motive.
The first prayer that you need to pray, especially if you do not know Jesus as your personal savior is the one to invite Him into your heart…