Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
By: Robert Robinson, 1735-90
Listen as you read. This version from In Reverence by David Tolk.
I wonder how many a confused worshippers over the years have found themselves asking that question? So, what is it, you ask. What is an Ebenezer?
This is a great example of using an image and story from the Old Testament to inject tremendous weight and meaning in just a few words. The story Robinson borrows from is found in I Samuel 7 and has the prophet helping the people find their way back to God. Having been long subdued by their enemies, they begin to turn back to God. Samuel makes an offering on their behalf, during which time the Philistines attack and are routed.
To commemorate the victory, Samuel erects a stone of remembrance and names it Ebenezer, which means, “stone of help” and says, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” [I Samuel 7:12] And so marks the beginning of a period of rest for the people of God. The remembrance works two ways: to remind the Israelites what God has done, and to remind God that their eyes were on Him.
How often has that happened for you? When you took a moment to look back over what you have just come through and you said, “Thus far you have helped me Lord”? And how often have you realized it was not because you deserved it.
How will you remind yourself of God’s past provision, and how will you allow that to encourage your faith as you look forward? Maybe you will not set up a stone which will remind you, every time you look at it, that God helped you through a particular difficulty. Maybe you will. Maybe it is a note or Scripture verse you keep before you. Maybe it is a piece of ribbon tied around a door knob. Whatever it is, let it be something.
So the people of God probably become accustomed to counting on God to be there, forgetting they had a part to play in this. We are guilty of the same expectation. So we must remember that we have to keep deciding to look to our Stone of Help.
Because it also has another layer of meaning. God is our Stone of help. Not only the help, but the stone as well. He is firm and unyielding. Never-changing. He is our Rock. Let’s keep looking to Him, until we safely arrive at our final destination, His glorious, eternal Presence.
Faithful God, You are our Ebenezer, our Stone of Help. As we work and wait through these sorrowful days, empower us to look to You. Remind us of Your work in the past, and keep our eyes on You today, even as we peer into the future. Bring us safely home.
Do you have practical ways you remind yourself of God’s help? Please share as we continue to build a community who encourages each other to resonate 7 days a week.