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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

1 Chronicles 4

In this chapter the names of other descendants of Judah than the descendants mentioned in 1 Chronicles 2 are given. Then follow the descendants of Simeon. The area of Simeon is in the middle of that of Judah.

Verses 1-23

More descendants of Judah


In this section, the name of the otherwise completely unknown Jabez stands out (1Chr 4:9-10). However, he is not unknown to God. He is mentioned because of his personal faith in God. God has blessed in the midst of His people each individual person who trusts Him.

The name “Jabez” is associated here with a verb that means “cause suffering”. The mother of Jabez recognizes in the name she gives her son, the judgment God has pronounced on the woman (Gen 3:16a). All children are born with pain. This also applies to the new birth that someone gets through conversion. Conversion and new life do not begin with joy, but with tears of repentance.

The prayer that Jabez says shows that he agrees with the name his mother gave him. Jabez is “more honorable than his brothers” because he knows what grief is and because he is a man of prayer. The acknowledgment of his natural state makes him appeal to God. He does not do so in vain. The reason of the prayer is not mentioned. It is a prayer of childlike faith, in which he addresses “the God of Israel”, the only God.

His prayer includes four points. Around these four points his entire prayer life will have taken place.

1. The first thing Jabez asks God is to “bless” him “indeed”. For us it means that we ask the Lord to teach us about our heavenly blessings. For this Paul prays in the first prayer he does for the Ephesians (Eph 1:15-23).

2. “and enlarge my border,” Then Jabez asks for expansion of his area. For us, the question of being introduced deeper into our heavenly blessings in Christ, that we can learn more from them. For this Paul prays in the second prayer he does for the Ephesians (Eph 3:14-21). It is about the taking possession of “the inheritance of the saints in the light” and being impressed by what this inheritance is all about (Col 1:9-23).

3. “and that Your hand might be with me,” Then Jabez asks for God’s support, for nothing will succeed in his own strength. For us it means that we realize that we cannot do anything without the Lord Jesus (Jn 15:5b). Paul therefore appeals us to strengthen ourselves in the Lord and in the power of His strength (Eph 6:10). He experienced this himself (2Tim 4:17).

4. “and that You would keep [me] from harm that [it] may not pain me!” Finally, Jabez asks for protection against evil. He recognizes its presence and realizes that only God can protect him from it. For us it means that we are aware that there are evil powers that want to rob us of the enjoyment of our inheritance. To defend ourselves against these evil powers God has given us His armor (Eph 6:11-18).

In short, he prays for
1. blessing,
2. enlargement,
3. support and
4. protection.

Jabez gets everything he asks for. God never disappoints when we ask things of Him that honor Him.

Othniel (1Chr 4:13) is the first judge of Israel in the time of the judges (Jdg 3:9-11).

A profession is also mentioned, that of “craftsmen” (1Chr 4:14). It is a call that is practiced in “Ge-harashim”, or “the Valley of craftsmen” as it also can be translated. A valley indicates that there is nothing wrong with it. This means that the profession of craftsman is practiced in humility. A good craftsman is an artist. In such a person, pride can quickly arise because of a performance delivered. It is a picture of the practice of faith life. Only if we are humble our lives will be in practice to God’s glory.

In Judah Caleb (1Chr 4:15) stands out. God remembers him with joy, as it were, all the more because Caleb is of pagan origin – he is a Kenite – but has been incorporated in Judah.

Another profession is called, “the linen workers” (1Chr 4:21). This is reminiscent of the bride’s robe in Revelation 19, which consists of “fine linen, bright [and] clean”. What this represents is directly behind it: “For the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev 19:8). We can say that the fine linen is the symbol of what people see of us. The linen workers represent believers who tell their fellow believers about what they are in Christ and how they can behave accordingly in practice. The point is that we have put on the new man and also show the features of it (Eph 4:20-24; Col 3:9-15).

It also contains names that do not evoke admiration, but shame (1Chr 4:22). They may point to a glorious past. Then they ruled over the Moabites. But at the moment the chronicler writes this down, he must mention that “the records are ancient”. Now it seems that this is no longer the case.

From a spiritual point of view, there is an important lesson to be learned here. Moab is a picture of the sinful flesh (Isa 16:6). It is usually the case that someone who has just come to repentance and faith, in his first enthusiasm, lives completely for the Lord. Unfortunately, it can happen that as he gets older, the sinful flesh gets a chance to assert itself again. The first love is left (Rev 2:4). Then life in faith is something “ancient”. Faith must be refreshed every day. If we do feed with God’s Word every day, we will be preserved for the experience of the men mentioned in 1Chr 4:22.

Finally, some other professions are mentioned (1Chr 4:23; cf. 1Chr 4:14). The “potters” make pots. They are empty pots or vessels that are meant to have something put in them. Pots or vessels represent persons intended to serve the Lord (Acts 9:15). To be useful to the Master, they must be vessels of honor, cleansed of false doctrine (2Tim 2:21). An empty vessel can be filled with oil (2Kgs 4:1-7). In a vessel filled with oil, we see the picture of the believer filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18b). Oil is used to anoint priests and kings and occasionally prophets. Oil is a picture of the Holy Spirit (1Jn 2:20).

The potters live in “Netaim and Gederah”. In other translations these place names are translated as “plantations and gardens” (Dutch Statenvertaling) or “plantations and walls” (German Elberfelder translation) and “plantations and enclosures” (English Darby translation). If it is so rendered, this verse contains a lesson for all who wish to serve as a vessel in caring for the plants in the (walled, enclosed) garden of the Lord (cp. Song 4:12). After all, the church is compared to a field where there is care for what grows on it (1Cor 3:6-9). The work in the gardens we see for example in what Paul and Apollos do. They have planted and watered in the field of God, that those planted in the house of the LORD may grow in the courts of God (Psa 92:12-13).

In order to work the garden properly, it is necessary to be in the presence of the Lord Jesus. Only those who “lived there with the king” (1Chr 4:23) are able “for his work”.

Verses 24-43

Descendants of Simeon


In 1Chr 4:39-43, we see that Simeon is enlarging his area. As a result of his sin Simeon is scattered among Israel (Gen 49:5-7) and remained small in number, without their own territory. For the sake of faith, however, enlargement is still possible. With Simeon this happens in the days of a revival under Hezekiah (1Chr 4:41). He puts into practice what Jabez has prayed for (1Chr 4:10). No matter at what time in history, there is always room for expansion.

Some of Simeon’s descendants are looking for good pasture for their herds. That is an important work, it is the work of a shepherd. A good shepherd will look for good pasture for his flock. The Lord Jesus gives the example as “the good Shepherd” (Jn 10:11), “the great Shepherd” (Heb 13:20) and “the chief Shepherd” (1Pet 5:4). All who care for the flock can only do so if He is their example and they realize that it is the flock of God and not their flock (1Pet 5:2; Acts 20:28).

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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Chronicles 4". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/1-chronicles-4.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.