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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 4

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-43

Chapter 4

In chapter four, we follow another line from Caleb through one of his sons called Er. And you get a different line of Caleb from that which was earlier given. Now in this particular line in verse nine, as we've been listing a lot of names, suddenly he pauses on one fellow who stands out. Now in all of these names, suddenly you get a man and he stands out. Now why does one stand out above the other?

Jabez was more honourable than his brothers: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bore him with sorrow ( 1 Chronicles 4:9 ).

Now the word Jabez means sorrow, and thus, why a parent would tag a name like that upon a child, I really don't know. It is rather, to me, unfortunate name to place upon a child. It would seem to me that it could cause some psychic problems. She bore him with sorrow, whether or not it was a difficult pregnancy, or whether or not some deformity existed in the child when he was born that created sorrow. It could be that he was blind. It could be that he was impaired some way physically. And so rather than the great joy of having a son, because of a physical impairment it would create sorrow. Oh, Jabez, you know, sorrow. And so they named him sorrow for whatever cause or reason. But that is... The name isn't the thing that makes him outstanding. It's his character that makes him outstanding.

And Jabez called upon the God of Israel ( 1 Chronicles 4:10 ),

He was outstanding because he was a man of prayer. There are far too few men of prayer. And yet, the men of prayer are the men who really do accomplish things for the glory of God. There is a book called Power through Prayer that I would like to recommend for excellent reading by E.M. Bounds. Andrew Murray has also written a beautiful book on prayer. There is a biography of Hyde; it's called Praying Hyde. Whenever I read of these men of prayer, I long in my heart to be a man of prayer. I really don't consider myself a man of prayer. I know that I don't pray enough. These men of prayer, these men that were capable of spending hours in prayer. Praying Hyde would spend up to eight hours a day. Now that I call a man of prayer.

And the things that were wrought for God. You know, we think we got to be out there, you know, hustling for the Lord. And we find ourselves always so deeply involved in activities for God, as though we can accomplish so much by our activities. But I am convinced that we can accomplish more for God through prayer than any of our efforts that we get involved in, especially if those efforts are not backed by prayer.

Now you say, "If you're not a man of prayer then how come the Lord has done so much through your ministry?" 'Cause I got so many people praying for me. And I appreciate your prayers. And the work that is wrought here is wrought as a result of prayer. God has blessed the ministry of Calvary Chapel because of prayer. And years ago when we were just twenty-five people, I said to them, "Alright now."

Because it is interesting, we made a survey in the summer camp that I was conducting one time. We sought to sort of get the spiritual tenor of the children, you know. And how often do you read your Bible, and how often do you pray? And on that little question, most of them put three times a day. And immediately of course, we figured out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And realizing that people usually pray for their breakfast, lunch and dinner, we suggested that they put a little sort of a postscript on their breakfast, lunch and dinner prayers as they asked the Lord to bless the food and give thanks for the food, we told them to put a little addition to their prayer, "And Lord, please bless Calvary Chapel."

And fourteen-and-a-half years ago, we began praying, "And Lord, please bless Calvary Chapel." And He has. Now, of course, I think that's one of the great sources of power in the church. And this is the thing that the people who come to analyze and to study and to find, you know, the program and so forth, this is the thing that they never see. Nor do they take into consideration, and that is the place of prayer in the ministry of Calvary Chapel. You see, they don't come all night and see the light on in the Prayer Room and realize that there are men there in the Prayer Room praying all night unto the Lord for the needs of the church and for the requests that have been brought in and those requests that are called in all night long. Oh, what power is generated by those men in their prayer, in the times of prayer all night long.

Now I'd like to recommend to a lot of you fellows, get started; get involved. You know, when I go to the men's prayer meeting on Saturday night and I hear the men praying, I can tell you the men who are in the all-night prayer times. I'll tell you, they really learned to pray. And it's thrilling to have men of prayer within the body. But it's also thrilling to have so many women that also have banded together in prayer, the Monday morning prayer fellowship there. And the many prayer fellowships throughout the area where the ladies gather during the day and homes for a time of prayer. And so we've got ladies praying all day and men praying all night. No wonder God is blessing Calvary Chapel in such a glorious way.

"And Jabez called upon the God of Israel." Now his prayer was really sort of for personal things.

Oh Lord, bless me indeed, enlarge my coast, keep your hand on me, keep me from evil, that it would not grieve me! And God answered his prayer, granted his request ( 1 Chronicles 4:10 ).

You know, God wants to bless you and to me. That's always exciting to realize that God wants to bless me. For as I look at myself I say, "How could God ever bless me?" Now He doesn't bless me because I'm so good, but because He's so good. And He just likes to bless people. I need the blessings. I like the blessings. I want the blessings. "Oh Lord, bless me indeed."

"Enlarge my coast." I think that one of the problems that we all have is that of narrowness. We always seem to want to define our borders, draw our close circle. "O God, enlarge my borders." You see, it's our church. "Oh, but they're Baptist. They're Nazarene. They're..." And we want to sort of exclude others. We've got this special exclusive fellowship. Foolishness! We have no corner upon God at all. We used to sing, "Jesus loves us all one and all, you and me, everybody one and all." And the Lord is no respecter of persons. The Lord is no respecter of churches. "God, enlarge my borders. Help me to see beyond the narrow walls of denominationalism."

I have found that the more spiritual a person becomes, the less denominational he becomes. And we quit talking about my church, and we start talking about His church, and we see it made up of Catholics and Presbyterians and Lutherans and Methodists. And the whole shebang, you might say. All of us a part of His glorious church. We see the purposes of God wrought in the many fellowships that have been created.

One of the signs of cultism is that of narrowness and, "We are the only ones. We're exclusive. Everybody else is Babylon. Everybody else is wrong. We're the only ones that have the true truth. Everyone else has, well, how could you have a false truth? So we are the truly true church." And this narrowness, sectarianism, it is carnal.

Paul said, "While some of you say, 'I'm of Cephas, I'm of Paul, I'm of Apollos'" ( 1 Corinthians 1:12 ). He said that's a mark of spiritual immaturity. You're a babe in Christ. You haven't grown up. It's a mark of carnality. Are you not carnal? Do you not walk as men as long as one is saying, "I'm of Cephas, I'm of Paul, I'm of Apollos?" And it's a mark of spiritual immaturity. "O God, enlarge my coast." Lord, enlarge the borders of my life. Let me see the whole kingdom of God. The whole body of Christ.

Then of course, "Keep your hand upon me." Oh how important it is that God keeps His hand upon my life. David said, "You held me by my right hand" ( Psalms 73:23 ). Lord, keep holding my hand. I need You to hold me up. But Lord, if You don't hold me up I'll surely fall. Then finally, "Keep me from evil lest it grieve me." Now this is farsightedness, which we need more of.

One of the problems of the world today is as Peter described. He said you only see that which is close. "You do not see that which is far off" ( 2 Peter 1:9 ). And we only so many times look at an experience for the immediate benefits, but this is always, always the snare of Satan. Shortcut. You don't have to take God's way. You can have immediate fulfillment. And just about every enticement that Satan lays before you, the bait is immediate fulfillment.

You don't have to go by way of the cross. You can have immediate fulfillment right now. Just turn aside from God's path. You see, it's over here. Here's where you're going to find it. And he seeks to turn us aside from God's path. "O God, keep me from evil lest it grieve me," because the end of that path when you turn aside from God's path, the end of that path is always grief. You may be all excited now. You may be breathless over the thrills and the anticipation of what this experience is going to bring to you. But oh, six months down the line, the grief that you're going to go through. "O God, keep me from evil lest it grieve me."

Sometimes I think it would be valuable if all of you could sit in my office and just listen to the stories of grief because someone turned aside from God's path seeking fulfillment. You couldn't talk to them at that time. They would say, "Oh, you don't understand. This is different. This is something special." "Yes, but God's Word says..." "Oh, but you know this is an exception." How is it that we always think our case is our exception? The old Greek proverb was, "The dice of the gods are loaded." By which they were saying, "Hey man, you can't go against God and win." Every time you try to go against God, you're going to lose. You're going to end up the loser. And so, "God keep me from evil lest it be a grief unto me." God answered his prayer.

Now we get back in the names again. One name stands out. We, with verse twenty-four, begin with the tribe of Simeon, and many of the names of those within the tribe of Simeon are given. A certain number of the tribe of Simeon, five hundred men, came down to the area of Edom, the land of Gedor. There was good pastureland there. And there they set up on the east side of the great African rift, the Dead Sea, and they found a good pasture for their flocks. They drove out the inhabitants of that land for it was good pastureland. And they dwelt there quietly and peaceably. They had driven out some of the descendants of Ham who had been there from the times of old. And this was during the time that Hezekiah was king over Israel. And they then went on down to mount Seir and took a part of the area that was of the Edomites, killing the Amaleks that were there. And it says, "They are dwelling there to this day."

Now the tribe of Simeon was, of course, one of the ten tribes from the northern kingdom. And it is interesting that a branch from Simeon went down and established there in the area of mount Seir. A rabbi recently sought to prove that those tribes in Afghanistan that are presently fighting against the Russian invasion are actually related to the tribes of Israel. They are part of the ten tribes of the northern kingdom. And he has done quite a scholarly job and research in proving that Israel is already fighting against Russia in Afghanistan. And many of these tribal people that have since, of course, embraced the Moslem religion are actually descendants from the ten tribes that were scattered at the time of the Assyrian invasion. Whether or not that is true, I do not know. But I do know that God knows where those people are, and He's going to gather them together. During the great tribulation He is going to seal ten thousand from each tribe, because He knows exactly who they are. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 4". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/1-chronicles-4.html. 2014.
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