A Calvin Theological Seminary Publication by Students & Alumni
Part I: The Name of Jabez

Part I: The Name of Jabez


Names carry significance. Not just because it’s what you call yourself, but your name plays a role in defining who you are. Your name could indicate a particular bond you have with the people you love, or it could connect you to the heritage or culture of your ancestors. If your chosen name has greater meaning for you, you might feel more comfortable going by it than your formal name. These all have one thing in common: your name plays a significant role in defining who you are. One of the first tasks assigned to Adam by God upon creating him was to give names to everything that came under his jurisdiction. The Scriptures associate naming with authority, but naming also conveys intimacy. In addition, names are assigned to convey the family’s current mood; this is the case with the majority of African cultural names, which convey the sentiments or circumstances of the parents. “God did not leave me,” is what my daughter’s name, Pwahadakail, means. It is a statement of my circumstances and my sense of God’s unwavering presence. Even though your name significantly influences your life, you have the choice to live independently of it. Some people end up with dubious lifestyles despite being given honorable names and expected to live honorably. Some chose to live above their names and conduct themselves honorably before God and people, despite having terrible names due to their parents’ circumstances. Many parents, like Jabez, have given their kids names to get them out of their terrible circumstances.

The Name Jabez

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” (1 Chron. 4:9)

This name is linked to suffering or sadness. For some reason, most likely related to his birth circumstances, his mother gave him this name. Given the significance of a name in ancient Hebrew society, Jabez was associated with this concept of suffering, possibly most notably during his formative years. The Spirit of God highlights Jabez in the middle of a lengthy genealogy and ponders it with joy. It is a brilliant gem that shines brilliantly on what looks to be a hard, boring surface, but it’s a name that fully verifies everything we’ve mentioned up to this point. If it weren’t for the presence of God in the inspired Word, it would be completely ignored. We know much of God in Jabez, but very little of who or what he was. Of what he was concerning the world, with his fellow men, to society, or business, we know little. Of what he was to God, there is much said and much known.

Jabez’s righteousness won him a name in heaven. He was therefore deserving of a place in the Book of God. He would have remained unknown and unnoticed if it weren’t for this. And what is said about him? “Jabez was more honorable than his brethren, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bore him with sorrow.” Generally speaking, God’s more honorable ones are those who are grieving. Grief is the path that leads to happiness. “You now therefore have sorrow, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” John 16:22–25. First, we identify the darkness as “Jabez.” We meet in grief and label it “Jabez”, but God uses it as a fortunate way to pull our attention to a world that will never end. We label “Jabez” on one thing and then another, meeting with frustration, disappointment, and anxiety. However, all of these things manifest as “more honorable” dealings or hidden blessings in the miraculous operations of God’s providence and the immeasurable riches of his grace.

And what is the salient attribute of this man of God’s character that the Holy Spirit has observed? In other words, it is prayer, “And Jabez called upon the God of Israel.” Prayer was Jabez’s way of life. He presents himself to us first in this aspect. Oh, if only this was a common trait among all of us! God blesses a man who is a man of prayer. In the purest form, a man of prayer is a man of God. It refers to a marked man, one who is set apart from others by his relationship with God and the mark he bears throughout all of his deeds, regardless of their size. This is the man that the Holy Spirit persists in, lifts his name out of a mere mass of unworthy genealogies, and fixes him briefly before us as the one “whom the King delighted to honor.” (Esther 8:15)


Regarding his brothers, Jabez is meant to be the least significant and least important. Even in a world where men talk more about God, his name could not have made him famous. However, he stood out from the crowd due to his unique personality, which rendered him more honorable than his brethren to the point where a town bears his name (1 Chronicles 2:15). Are you experiencing the same circumstances as Jabez? Do you experience any form of discomfort, trauma, pain, or hardship? Is your name enough to make you unimportant? You know that your name does not define who you are, even though it serves as a means of identification. You will be distinguished from your relatives and peers by your unique personality. Standing with God in every circumstance is the only way to distinguish your personality. Jabez knew that God was there to assist him, and he made a prayerful submission to God. Your essence, your character, and your relationship with God are more important than your name.


Martin H. Kamaidan