What’s an Ebenezer?
Today’s Bible reading is 1 Samuel 7 and John 10.
“Here I raise my Ebenezer; hither by Thy help I’ve come.” Have you ever sung those words and had no idea what you were singing? If so, you’re not the first. What in the world is an “Ebenezer”? What does it have to do with God’s help? And if I don’t even know what an Ebenezer is, how can I raise one?
Before you sing O Thou Fount of Every Blessing again, you should spend a little time in 1 Samuel 7.
Samuel has become a leader in Israel and called the people to repentance.
“If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the LORD only. (1 Sam 7:3-4)
Samuel gathers the people in a place called Mizpah that he might pray for them. They fast on a day of sacrifice and confess, “We have sinned against the LORD.”
Now when the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the people of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines. (1 Sam 7:7)
They desperately implore Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the LORD our God for us, that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines.” Samuel offers a sacrifice and “cries out” to the LORD for Israel. “And the LORD answered him.”
As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the LORD thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel. (1 Sam 7:10)
There could be no doubt on that day as to the identity of Israel’s deliverer. So Samuel took a stone, set it up, and called its name Ebenezer; “for he said, ‘Till now the LORD has helped us'” (1 Sam 7:12). Ebenezer means “stone of help.”
“Here I raise my Ebenezer; hither by Thy help I’ve come.” It’s a beautiful way of expressing to God, “I’ve only made it this far because you have been with me. I thank you for being my Stone of help. I praise you as the Fount of my blessings. I will continue to depend upon you, every step of the way.”
Till now the LORD has helped us. May we humbly recognize that fact and live today with joyful dependence on him.