my Ebenezer

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far has the LORD helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12


I’ve been chewing on this verse and the passage that surrounds it today. 1 Samuel 7 tells us another story of the battle between the Philistines and the Israelites. It seems those pesky Philistines were constantly picking a fight with God’s chosen people (ok, so maybe the Israelites picked a fight or two as well…). On this particular day, the Israelites were once again scared to death of the Philistines and ran to the prophet, Samuel, asking him to pray for them. Actually, they said “Do not stop crying out to the LORD our God on our behalf.” Samuel offered a burnt offering and prayed for Israel. God heard Samuel and in a spectacular display of His awesome might, He threw the Philistines into such a panic that all the Israelites had to do was chase them out of town. After the battle was won, Samuel took a stone and set it as a memorial and called it “Ebenezer”; because, as Samuel said, “this far has the LORD helped us.”

Last night I was reading through “Praying the Scriptures for Your Teenager.” Author, Jodie Berndt, discussed this passage in 1 Samuel 7. As Mrs. Berndt was researching and writing her book, she spoke with parents of teenagers. She had several parents who were reluctant to compliment their children because they were afraid that it would be considered boasting. She interviewed other parents who afraid to speak positively of their teenagers because of the potential that they would make a mistake and “erase” all of the good things that they had done.

Now that we’ve entered the world of puberty with our children, I can certainly appreciate these parents’ points of view but I would agree with Jodie Berndt, “Rather than cowering in worry or fear over the Philistines that lurk around our next corner, we need to stop and thank God for what He has already done in our teenager’s lives. When God works in answer to our prayers, we need to raise our own Ebenezers, giving Him credit and honor for what He has done ‘thus far’–and knowing that He will be there for us in the future.” (p. 17)

In less than 48 hours, we will officially be parents of a teen. As a gift to our son, I’ve been working on my own Ebenezer. I can not wait to give Eric his birthday gift. I want him to know that I am so thankful for where God has brought him ‘thus far’ and I know that God will be there for him in the future.

Not only am I working on this memorial, this “Ebenezer”, for Eric; I am doing this for myself as well. For I know how weak I am. I know that I will forget that God has brought us ‘thus far’ and I will need to return to this Ebenezer time and time again to refresh my memory. I will need to see again and again that God brought us through the first 13 years of parenting just as He, and He alone, will bring us through the next 13 years.

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,  
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.
2. Here I raise mine Ebenezer;  
hither by thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.
3. O to grace how great a debtor  
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.
~Robert Robinson

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