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1 Chronicles 4:9 . Jabez, dolour, grief, anguish. He was honourable; the same with Othniel, according to the Targumists.
1 Chronicles 4:22 . Jokim, &c. These four probably resided in Moab, about the time of Elimelech. Ruth 1:2.
In the vast line of great men and of princes, mentioned in the tribe of Judah, no one here claims so particular attention as Jabez. He was more honourable than his brethren. They, as well as he, were princes by birth; and though he might excel them in riches, yet his greatest honours arose from his piety, his learning, and the distinguished actions of his life.
His mother bare him with great sorrow: she narrowly escaped with life in giving birth to her son. Hence she called him Jabez, because he caused her grief. It often happens that the things which at first cost us some prayers and tears, afterwards prove the happiest sources of our comfort and joy. The Hebrew mothers were often short-sighted in giving names of bitterness and sorrow to their sons. God is better to his people than their fears, and often renders affliction subservient to their greatest joy.
Jabez on coming to his estate began the world with God. He called on the name of the Lord, that is, he sincerely renewed his covenant with God; he prayed for all its spiritual blessings, Jeremiah 31:33, and most solemnly vowed to live like his fathers, the holy patriarchs, whom God had blessed and clothed with his high defence. He fixed his eye on the great and everlasting covenant of Israel. He deprecated all its curses by revering God, and avoiding vice; and he claimed all its blessings by piety and obedience. What an example for the young heir to imitate; what an encouraging model for every man to cast himself and his family on the care of heaven.
His piety was connected with industry. He built Jabez, a city, which he called after his own name. Not the Jabesh-gilead; for there, the country being joined to the name, marks that there was another Jabez. Those who look for covenant mercies must use industry, faith and prayer, in obtaining them. He prayed that God would bless him indeed, and enlarge the boundaries of his coast. What, having much, did he pray for more? Did he wish to add house to house, and field to field, till no inheritance was left for the poor? Did he wish to serve God for his gifts, and content himself with a terrestrial paradise? Did he wish to be lord and tyrant over the vassal poor, and to exercise his penal claim over oppressed humanity? If so, thousands would now join him in devotion. No, no; heaven forbid the thought. But though the tribe of Judah had expelled the Canaanites, yet they returned and dwelt in many of the burnt cities. Hereby Jabez found his princely lot encumbered, and even his life menaced by the enemy. Therefore he prayed that God would inspire him with the courage of Caleb, honourably to clear the lot given him by the Lord; and in all those skirmishes and conflicts he kept his eye on the heavenly country, and the better inheritance promised to his fathers. Let us in like manner pray for the Lord to give us resolution and courage to vanquish every foe, and improve the lot divinely given us of the Lord.
God granted him his request. He, according to his promise, was with him in all his wars and conflicts, to drive the heathen from his inheritance; for virtue, after all, is that source of courage most to be depended upon in extreme danger. Thus the Lord was with Jabez; and thus he will be with the poor man in his cottage, the farmer in his fields, the merchant in his warehouse, and the lord in his mansion, provided they properly claim the protection of his arm.
The Lord, through all the pilgrimage of life, preserved him from evil, that it did not grieve him. No weapon uplifted against him prevailed, no sickness materially affected either him or his sons; for “the Lord preserves all them that love him; but all the wicked will he destroy.”
Jabez in prosperity, and it is great to say, did not apostatize from his vows, and from his God. He devoted his leisure to sacred literature. He became a distinguished doctor in the law, and trained up the whole or part of his sons to the same studies and duties. The families of scribes in Jabez acquired a celebrity which claimed a notice in the contracted annals of the kingdom. 1 Chronicles 2:55. What mercies, temporal and spiritual; what honour, human and divine, didst thou, Lord, heap on this devout and faithful man. What favours didst thou confer on his family, that they inherited not only the lands, but also the piety of their parent. So, according to rank and situation, thou wilt proportion blessings in time or in eternity, to every man who, like Jabez, shall begin the world and persevere through life in piety, devotion and righteousness. Thy gracious hand is over them that love thee, even to thousands of generations.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26