At this point in his life, Samuel is a grown man and a prophet of God (1 Samuel 3:19-21). His mentor Eli, and Eli’s sons died following the capture of the ark of God by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:11, 18). After being plagued by God, the Philistines return the ark of God to the Israelites (1 Samuel 6:11-21).
Samuel shows excellent spiritual leadership by leading the people to put away their idols (1 Samuel 7:3-6). The Philistines gather together to fight Israel and Israel is afraid. However, to Israel’s credit they call upon their leader, Samuel, to cry out the “the Lord our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines” (1 Samuel 7:8). Samuel does this and offers sacrificial offerings to God (1 Samuel 7:9). The Lord causes great thunder to occur which confuses the Philistines and God’s people defeat their enemies (1 Samuel 7:10-11).
Following this Samuel sets up his “Ebenezer” as the opening verse above indicates (1 Samuel 7:12). One of the hymns we sing in church is called “O, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. The 2nd verse of that song begins: “Here I raise my Ebenezer, here by Thy great help I’ve come…”. I sung this song for years not understanding the significance of these words. The only “Ebenezer” I knew before was Ebenezer Scrooge from Dickens’ Christmas Carol.
The word “Ebenezer” comes from a Hebrew word which simply means, “stone of help”. An Ebenezer, then, is simply a monumental stone set up to signify the great help that God granted the one raising the stone (Kyle Butt, “Here I raise my Ebenezer,” Apologetics Press). Samuel was setting up this stone as I way of expressing his gratitude for God’s help in directing Israel thus far and he took time to give God glory.
As I take time to ponder the words of Samuel following the raising up of his “Ebenezer”, when he says, “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12), I am filled with a sense of awe as I reflect how God has helped me thus far in my life. God has led me out of my sinful past and into the salvation found in His wonderful Son Jesus (Colossians 1:13). He has shown tremendous longsuffering with me as I struggled with my own weaknesses and failures in attempting to follow Him. The Lord has led me through valleys during challenging trials I have faced and He has led me to high mountaintops and allowed me to experience times of great joy. Today, I rejoice and glorify God and say, “Here I raise my Ebenezer, here by Thy great help I’ve come…”. God is the Fount of Every Blessing!
“One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord” (Psalm 27:4-6).