“Here I raise my Ebenezer.” I had always heard this term “Ebenezer” in the famous hymn “Come thou Fount.” However, I must admit, for the majority of my life, I sang these words without having the slightest clue of what they might mean. My best guess was that “Ebenezer” was the name of an old dead Bible man. But this didn’t quite make sense to me, as I didn’t have a man named Ebenezer, and even if I did have one, I didn’t know why I would want to raise him. Plus, I highly doubted the fact that I was strong enough to lift a fully-grown man anyways.
But, as you might know, Ebenezer is not a man, but an important part of a story in the Old Testament, found in 1 Samuel chapter 7. The story goes like this: The Israelites were in a really tight spot because the Philistines were coming in and wanting to attack them. They told the prophet Samuel to pray and ask God to save them. Samuel prayed and scarified to the Lord, and the Lord answered him. God sent loud thunder which terrified the Philistines. They got so scared that they ran out in front of the Israelites who were waiting to attack. The Israelites won the battle against the enemy that they were originally terrified of.
“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” – 1 Samuel 7: 12
After the battle was over, Samuel put up this rock to remind the Israelites that God answers prayers. The Lord helped them when they needed him most; God came through. The altar was a reminder to all of the Israelites of the fear that they felt and how the Lord met them in their time of need. They have a reminder that God listens, cares and loves to answer the prayers of his people. That’s what an Ebenezer is about.
So, as I look towards an uncertain future, here I raise my Ebenezer. Thus far, the Lord has helped me. The Fellows Program is incredible evidence of that. He has brought me to Raleigh, blessed me with an incredible community and poured out his mercy in new ways in my life this year. I have an altar to look at. A reminder: God loves to answer the prayers of his people.
Here I raise my Ebenezer
Here there by Thy great help I've 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