The Ebenezer is The Stone of Help. It is a stone erected to remind people of a time when God has helped them. In class one of my students asked how we could be constantly reminded that we are in the presence of God. It is one of those things that we too quickly forget. I suggested that we need a monument or icon of some kind. As Haase suggests in his book, Coming Home to Your True Self, we need to have a reminder like the letter “P” placed in locations where we will see it and be reminded. I suggested to my class that they write P on their wall, get a charm bracelet, a necklace or some kind of other reminder. I couldn’t quite say that they should get a tattoo. However, Protestants have lost the art of using icons to help remind them of greater truths. The Israelites knew how to set up a monument to bring right thinking about God – we set up monuments to 9/11, The Vietnam War, and Lincoln – why don’t we set one up to remind us about God?
1 Samuel 7:5-17
5 Then Samuel said, “Assemble all Israel at Mizpah, and I will intercede with the LORD for you.” 6 When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the LORD. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the LORD.” Now Samuel was serving as leader[a]of Israel at Mizpah.
7 When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. When the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines. 8 They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the LORD our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.” 9Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and sacrificed it as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. He cried out to the LORD on Israel’s behalf, and the LORD answered him.
10 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the LORD thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. 11The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar.
12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer,[b]saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
13 So the Philistines were subdued and they stopped invading Israel’s territory. Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines. 14The towns from Ekron to Gath that the Philistines had captured from Israel were restored to Israel, and Israel delivered the neighboring territory from the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.
15 Samuel continued as Israel’s leader all the days of his life. 16 From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in all those places. 17 But he always went back to Ramah, where his home was, and there he also held court for Israel. And he built an altar there to the LORD.
- What did the Israelites say at Mizpah?
- What did God do for them at Mizpah?
- How did Israel remember what God had done?
- How has God helped you?
- How could you set up some kind of reminder that God is present with you each moment?