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10th February 2024

A Name With A Story

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel,

“Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!”


 1 Chronicles 4:10

Names are very important, however, many people are unhappy with the name their parents gave them and seek to change their name. Renaming people was common in the Scriptures, for a name described something about the person. In Genesis 17:5-15, Abram is renamed Abraham. Abram, which means “exalted father,” became Abraham, “father of multitudes.” Abraham’s grandson Jacob, whose name means “heel-grabber” and “schemer,” was renamed Israel, “prince of God.” The despondent Naomi asked her neighbours to no longer call her Naomi (delightful), but Mara (bitterness) because of the hard life she had experienced (Ruth 1:20). In the New Testament, a believer named Joseph was called Barnabas by the apostles (Acts 4:36). Barnabas means “son of encouragement,” which perfectly captured this man’s interactions with other believers and with the church.

In today's reading, Jabez also lived with a harsh name, and not one most people would like. At his birth his mother “named him Jabez saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain’” (1 Chronicles 4:9)—because “Jabez” sounds like the Hebrew word for pain. He was essentially labelled, “a man of pain”. Imagine the heartache and isolation of living under that characterisation—of being avoided in the street or having people assume the worst of you.

Jabez thus “cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!’” (v. 10). He asked God to remember His promises to His people—given through Abraham—of blessing and of extending blessings (see Genesis 12:1–3). Jabez took hold of those promises for himself, essentially saying to the Lord, “Do not let my name become my story. Do what You have said; bless me and send me out to bless!”

If you have been given a difficult name or reputation by others, know that their words do not have to write your story. Being misunderstood is painful, but it does not have to stop us blessing others and being blessed. 

Bible Reading

1 Chronicles 4:9–10.


Heavenly Father, I find it painful when people misunderstand me. Help me to not be defined by those false opinions. Enable me to be who You have created me to be, so I can bless You and others. In the Saviour's name I ask. Amen.

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