Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us. 1 Samuel 7:12 (NKJ)
Although I have never considered myself a history buff, I must admit as I listen to hymns, I often wonder what the writer was thinking as they pinned words of encouragement and resolve, which is often the nature of hymns. One of my favorites in time of challenge is “Come Thou Font of Every Blessing” by Robert Robinson. The challenge can be one externally generated or an internal struggle that I am facing. Verse two is especially reassuring.
“Here I raise my Ebenezer, Here there by Thy help I come
And I hope by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God
He to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood.”
In our study text we find Samuel, exercising his priestly role by raising a particular stone—Ebenezer which means “stone of help”. Since the loss of the Ark of the Covenant, Israel had been intimidated and cowed by Philistine might. Typically they reacted with fear to the news of impending warfare (v. 7). But instead of taking flight, they solicited the aid of Samuel. Samuel prayerfully “offered up” a burnt offering as atonement for Israel’s sins (Ps. 66:18) and then “cried out unto the LORD for Israel; AND THE LORD HEARD HIM” (v. 9). The result of God’s intercession was victory. Samuel then set up a stone reminiscent of other commemorative markers erected by Israel (Gen. 35:14; Josh. 4:9; 24:26) to pay tribute to God, apart from whom victory would have been inconceivable. Samuel knew that the LORD would be Israel’s source of protection and defense, regardless of the enemy. The expression, “Thus far the LORD has helped us” means that the Lord was the one responsible for getting Israel to this point. Would God not continue to do so? Is this not also true for our lives? Has it not been God who has safely brought us to this place today? Will God not continue to do so as we repent and cry out for His deliverance?
Raising our “stone of help” is critical as we face the challenges of the 21st century. In times of trouble, we tend to focus on the enormity of the problem rather than the greatness of God; we forget our true identity in Christ and transfer our trust to the fleeting security of a world that is fading away (1 John 2:17). We, like Samuel, must remember not only the things which God has delivered us from but also celebrate the place God has transported us to. That place represents “God’s grace” for our life in that moment of need—peace, love, joy or provision and protection.
Raising our “stone of help” will result in renewed confidence in the worst of circumstance; our confidence lie not within ourselves but in God. Our God is dedicated to our well-being because we are His beloved children (1 John 3:1) and are of great value to Him (Luke 12:6). Let us continually lift praises to God, our Stone of help, for His unfailing love and protection. Thank you Father God for it is “Here by Thy help I come.”