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Sermon on the King's Accession .
THE PRAYER OF JABEZ.
1 Chron. iv. 10. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, say
ing, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested. EMARKABLE is the honour which God puts
upon prayer, and numberless are the instances which are recorded of its efficacy. Jabez is here mentioned in a long catalogue of names; but while the names only of others are recorded, he is particularly noticed : he is even declared to have been more honourable than all his brethren. This distinction indeed might be given him on account of his primogeniture, but it was certainly still more due on account of his piety; like the patriarch Jacob, he “ wrestled with God, and prevailed”— I. The prayer he offered, 1. The subject matter of it,
[In its primary sense it evidently related to temporal blessings. God had promised his people an inheritance in Canaan, but they were not able of themselves to drive out the inhabitants. Jabez therefore, sensible of his insufficiency, prayed to God for help. He begged for the blessing of God upon his own endeavours : he desired to be preserved from the dangers to which his military exploits would expose him; and to have, through the divine interposition, an enlarged inheritance in the promised land. These requests he urged with a significant and earnest pleaa.
a Almost all Hebrew names had some peculiar signification. Jabez signifies sorrow: the name was given him in remembrance of
But there is reason to think it had also a spiritual meaning. The earthly Canaan was typical of the heavenly kingdom. The enemies also that were to be driven out, were typical of the enemies with whom the Christian has to contend. Moreover, the assistance, which God rendered to his people, was intended to shew us what aid we might expect from him. And what evil will a child of God deprecate so much as sin ? Surely nothing is so "grievous” to him as the prevalence of corruption b. Well therefore may Jabez be considered as looking beyond this world, and as imploring a secure possession of his heavenly inheritance.] 2. The manner in which it was offered
[It is the sentiment, rather than the expression, that gives excellence to prayer; but in both respects we may admire that before us. It was humble.
He felt his entire dependence upon the power and grace of God. This is intimated not merely in the petitions offered, but in the very manner in which they were offered—“Oh that," &c. Such humility is absolutely necessary to render prayer acceptable. The more we abase ourselves, the more will God exalt us. Let this be remembered in all our addresses at the throne of grace.
It was importunate. He enforced his request with a very earnest plea. Nor, in reference to sin, could any plea be more proper for him. But we may also properly deprecate
grievous” to our souls. Yea, a disposition to do this is both an evidence of our sincerity, and a pledge of the divine acceptance.
It was believing. The title, by which he addressed the Deity, argued his faith in God. It expressed a confidence in God as the hearer of prayer. It is in this way that we also should approach the Deity. Without such faith our petitions will have but little effect; but with it, they shall never go forth in vain .]
Prayer possessing such qualities could not fail of success : II. The success with which it was attended
We have no detailed account of God's kindness towards him, but we are informed that “God granted
the unusual sorrows his mother endured in childbirth. And it was in reference to this that he deprecated the evils to which he was exposed; “Keep me," &c. lest I be Jabez in my experience, as well as in my name.
b Rom. vii. 24. c Gen. xxxii. 28. d Mark xi. 24.