by Charles H. Spurgeon
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) was widely acknowledged as "the prince of preachers"-though he himself only wanted to be a "John Ploughman," keeping his hand to the plow and plowing a straight furrow. The son and grandson of preachers, he was converted at age 16 when admonished to "look to Jesus!" He began preaching at a Baptist chapel in Cambridge the next year, and at 20 he was called to the New Park Street Church in London. In 1861, the Metropolitan Tabernacle, which seated 6,000 persons, was built to accommodate his congregation. His books of sermons and devotions are still very much in demand. This message was preached in 1871.
"Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!" (1 Chron. 4:10).
We know very little about Jabez, except that he was more honorable than his brethren, and that he was called Jabez because his mother bare him with sorrow. Sometimes where there is the most sorrow in the antecedents, there will be the most pleasure in the sequel. As the furious storm gives place to the clear sunshine, so the night of weeping precedes the morning of joy. Cowper says: "The path of sorrow, and that path alone, leads to the place where sorrow is unknown."
To a great extent we find that we must sow in tears before we can reap in joy. Yet those projects that have cost us great sorrow have often turned out to be the most honorable of our undertakings.
The best honor is that which a man gains in communion with the Most High. Jabez, we are told, was more honorable than his brethren, and his prayer is then recorded, as if to intimate that he was also more prayerful than his brethren. We are told of what petitions his prayer consisted. All through it was very significant and instructive. We have only time to take one clause of it-and, indeed, that one clause may be said to comprehend the rest: "Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!"
I commend it as a prayer for yourselves, dear brothers and sisters; one which will be available at all seasons; a prayer to begin Christian life with, a prayer to end it with, a prayer which would never be unseasonable in your joys or in your sorrows.
Oh that thou, the covenant God, would bless me indeed! The very heart of the prayer seems to lie in that word, "indeed." There are many varieties of blessing. Some are blessings only in name: they gratify our wishes for a moment, but eventually disappoint our expectations. Others are mere temporary blessings, which perish with the using. But, whom God blesses shall be blessed. Let the grace of God prompt it, let the choice of God appoint it, let the bounty of God confer it, and then the endowment shall be something godlike indeed-something to be craved by every one who seeks honor that is substantial and enduring. "Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!"
Reflect, and you will see that there is a depth of meaning in the expression. We may set this in contrast with human blessings: "Oh that Thou wouldest bless me indeed!" It is good to be blessed by our parents and friends, whose benedictions come from their hearts and are backed up by their prayers. Many a poor man has had no other legacy to leave his children except his blessing, but the blessing of an honest, holy, Christian father is a rich treasure to his son. And how precious is the blessing of the poor! If you have relieved the widow and the fatherless, and their thanks are returned to you in benediction, it is no mean reward. But, dear friends, all that parents, relatives, saints, and grateful persons can do in the way of blessing falls very far short of what we desire to have. O Lord, "that Thou wouldest bless me indeed!" for You can bless with authority.
Others may often wish what they cannot do, and desire to give what they have not at their own disposal, but Your will is omnipotent. You created the world with but a word. O that such omnipotence would now speak Your blessing to me! For in Your favor is life, and Your blessing is the title to "an inheritance incorruptible" and unfading, to "a kingdom which cannot be moved."
We may put this blessing in another light, and compare it with blessings that are temporal and transient. There are many bounties given to us mercifully by God, for which we are bound to be very grateful; but we must not set too much store by them. We may accept them with gratitude, but we must not make them our idols. When we have them we have great need to cry, "Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and make these inferior blessings real blessings;" and if we have them not, we should with greater vehemence cry, "Oh that we may be rich in faith, and if not blessed with these external favors, may we be blessed spiritually, and then we shall be blessed indeed."
Adapted from Sermon No. 994, Volume 17, Metropolitan Tabernacle