Here I Raise My Ebenezer
Samuel 4:19 - Samuel 10:16
Almost 25 years ago I was asked to play the piano at a missionary homecoming. The song was one I had never heard before. It was titled Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. I was accompanying a vocalist who was a dear friend of mine. I hate to admit it, but some of the words just didn’t make any sense to us. Particularly the phrase, “Here I raise my Ebenezer; Here by Thy great help I’ve come…” We had no idea who Ebenezer was and we figured no one else in the congregation would either, so we changed that part of the song and left out the line entirely.
After the homecoming the missionary approached us to thank us. We asked him why he had chosen that particular song. He said it was one of his favorites. “But,” he said, “You left out my very favorite part.” We told him it was because the line didn’t make sense to us and asked him what the meaning was. With a smile he told us we would have to figure it out for ourselves, and hinted that the answer could be found within the scriptures.
I found the answer in the seventh chapter of Samuel.
Just as each of the prophets had done before him, there came a moment in Samuel’s life when he asked Israel to put away their strange gods and turn to the Lord. This time it was so that they could be delivered from the Philistines. Samuel asked them to “Prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you…Gather all Israel…and I will pray for you unto the Lord. And they gathered together…and fasted on that day.” (Samuel 7:3-6)
Israel was afraid, and they said to Samuel, “Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that he will save us. And Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him.” (Samuel 7:8-9)
And Israel prevailed.
“Then Samuel took a stone, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” (Samuel 7:12)
If you look at the footnote for Ebenezer in verse 12 you will find that the name means the stone of help. Here I raise my ebenezer; here by thy great help I've come. The stone became a memorial for Israel of a time when the Lord had helped them through a situation they could not have made it through on their own.
Do you have an Ebenezer in your home?
It might not be a stone.
Really anything that reminds you of a time when you felt the help of the Lord could count.
This is mine.
I bought it 16 years ago during one of the hardest times of my life. A time when I really wasn’t sure if I would make it through. I was afraid. Exhausted. Spent. I wasn’t up to the challenge placed before me.
During that time I found great counsel in a blessing I was given, “have an optimistic approach to the life that is yours.” You know right then, in that moment, I wasn’t really enthusiastic about the life that was mine. I laughed out loud at the thought of having an optimistic approach to a situation that had filled my entire world with darkness.
But I trusted the advice from the Lord. So I spent a long time thinking about how I could be more optimistic about the situation I was in. I needed a to find a constant reminder that would help me remember to have optimism. I knew the Lord would help me live up to that counsel if I prepared my heart to follow His words.
So I bought a happy basket.
The situation I was in was not happy. But the basket was. And every single time I looked at it I remembered the Lord. And somehow the Lord helped me through. In fact, most often what got me through the darkest days was knowing that the night would come, and with it the opportunity I would have to turn to the Lord in prayer. Sometimes those prayers lasted most of the night.
I look back at that time and know that I would not have made it through if it hadn’t been for Him.
Now when I see that basket I think to myself, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”
I don’t need the basket anymore. But I will never give it away. It has become for me a memory of a time of great need when I received help from the Lord. Strength beyond my own. Deliverance.
It is a time I never want to forget.