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 NKJV) In this historical account in 1 Samuel, Israel had, for years, been terrorized by the Philistines, who had taken some of their cities. When Samuel exhorted Israel to repent, turn to the Lord, and get rid of their idols, they obeyed. Then Samuel gathered them all together and prayed for them. The Philistines, taking the opportunity, came to do battle against them, but God, having heard their prayers, confused the Philistines, and Israel was able to drive them back. So Samuel raised an Ebenezer to be a reminder of the Lord’s help. After that the Philistines did not return to Israel’s territory, and the cities that had been taken by the Philistines were restored to Israel.
I love this story. God’s care and mercy being constant, no matter how often His own people forsook His name and their allegiance to Him. Whenever they repented with sincere hearts, He rescued them from their own mess and from their enemies, often creating dramatic events that would shout down through the ages proclaiming His might and His authority. And the stone of remembrance, the Ebenezer, raised to mark the remarkable grace and mercy of God, it stands, its speaks, and it remains for generations.
How do you mark the remarkable in your life? How do you foster the remembrance of His goodness in future generations? Traditions are worthy when they continue in the power of His presence, His grace, and His mercy. Traditions, however, can become idols when He is no longer the focus. And when that happens, we lose ground. Thanks be to God, Who redeems and restores when we return to Him and acknowledge His faithfulness.
When I was a child, sitting beside my father on the piano bench while he played and we sang was a rich tradition, and it was one that we came back to as often as we could right up until he went home to be with Jesus. Even now, when I hear some of the old hymns we used to sing, if I close my eyes I can hear his voice and see his precious hands moving over the keys. And every remembrance brings to mind all the goodness of our Father in heaven Who performed His good purpose in that man’s life and continues to perform it in mine. Indeed, thus far the Lord has helped us.
Father in heaven, You have been my source and my strength. I know my frailty and my propensity to wander, but You have drawn me back again and again. You have never left me alone, and You have been faithful to all Your promises. Grant that my heart be filled with Your love and my mouth with Your praise, so that I may walk worthy of Your calling and become the blessing and kiss of heaven to those around me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
As you listen to this wonderful old hymn (with a new bridge), consider His blessing in your life and worship Him above all else.
Until next week, may your life be marked with His presence.