As you journey through the genealogies, occasionally the writer will take a side journey to tell you more about a particular individual. Such is the case with Jabez.
Jabez appears out of nowhere. We do not know the name of his father or mother, but the placement of his name would indicate he is a descendant of Judah. His name sounds like the Hebrew word for “pain,” given to him because his mother found his birth so painful. Jabez’ prayer is that God keep him from pain by doing three things: First, enlarge his territory (basically a request for security and safety). Second, that God’s hand will stay near. Third, that God keep him from disaster.
As the story unfolds, these themes reappear. God “enlarges” David’s army, giving security (1 Chronicles 27:23). David comments that God’s hand provides strength and blessing (1 Chronicles 29:12,14,16). But because of the sins of the people, disaster does appear in the story from time to time.
Israel was born out of pain, and through it all, they cry out to God and God provides deliverance. Jabez is, then, an introductory hint to the message of Chronicles. For His people who cry out to him day and night and entrust themselves to Him, God is always present (see Jesus’ words in Luke 18:7-8).