Here I Raise My Ebenezer

Title: Here I Raise My Ebenezer

Bible Book: 1 Samuel 7 : 1-12

Author: David E. Owen

Subject: Memory; Remembering; Memorial Day



On Memorial Day, there are often ceremonies held at notable sites where monuments and memorials have been raised up, especially those that have been established to honor fallen soldiers. And when we think about the various monuments and memorials, we would include…

World War I Monuments and Memorials:

•World War I Memorial in Washington DC

World War II Monuments and Memorials:

•The National WWII Memorial in Washington DC

•The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii

•The Iwo Jima Memorial

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC

The Korean War Memorial Washington DC

Monuments to Leaders:

•Washington Monument Washington DC

•Lincoln Memorial Washington DC

•Jefferson Memorial Washington DC

September 11 Monuments and Memorials:

•Pentagon Memorial

I find an important chapter in the Word of God that mentions a memorial, not to a fallen soldier, but to a favorable Sovereign.

And the name of this memorial in 1 Samuel 7 is “Ebenezer,” which means literally, ‘stone of the help,’ or ‘the builded stone signifying help.’ First Samuel 7:12 says…

(1 Samuel 7:12) Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.

Ebenezer – Hebrew 72. 'Eben ha-'ezer, eh'-ben haw-e'-zer; from H68 and H5828 with the art. ins.; stone of the help; Eben-ha-Ezer, a place in Pal.:--Ebenezer.

The McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia states that…

EBENEZER (was) the name given to a place marked by a monumental stone which Samuel set up as a memorial of the divine assistance in battle obtained against the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:12). Twenty years before this, the same spot (mentioned in the history under the same name by anticipation of its subsequent designation) witnessed the discomfiture (embarrassing defeat) of the Hebrew hosts, the death of the high-priest’s sons, and the capture of the sacred ark by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:1; 5:1). Its position is carefully defined (1 Samuel 7:12) as between Mizpeh “the watch-tower,” one of the conspicuous eminences a few miles north of Jerusalem and Shen, “the tooth” or “crag,” (which was) apparently some isolated landmark.

I. The Lord Helped Us When The Power Was Absent

(1 Samuel 7:1–2)

Warren Wiersbe writes…

The Lord could have withdrawn Himself from His people, but instead, He graciously allowed the Ark to be taken about ten miles to Kiriath jearim where it remained in the home of Abinadab. The men of the city consecrated Abinadab’s son Eleazar to guard the Ark. This was undoubtedly a Levitical family, for after what had happened to the men of Beth-Shemesh, the men weren’t likely to take any more chances by breaking the law! The Ark remained in Kiriath jearim for perhaps a century, for the battle of Aphek was fought about 1104 B.C., and David brought the Ark to Jerusalem in about 1003 B.C. (2 Samuel 6). The Ark had been in the home of Abinadab twenty years when Samuel called an assembly of the people to turn from their sins and seek the Lord (1 Samuel 7:3). The Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of the Lord with His people and the rule of the Lord over His people. The Lord had every right to abandon His sinful people, but He graciously remained with them, though not in the special tabernacle He had commanded them to build.

So for a century, the Ark of the Covenant resided at Kirjath-jearim, ten miles from Jerusalem. But the Bible says it was in the house of Abinadab, whose name means “father of generosity.” And it was kept by his son Eleazar, whose name means “God is helper.” Though the token of God’s presence was not in the midst of the people, it was not far away. And these names, Abinadab and Eleazar, suggest the ongoing work of God as a generous helper.

(1 Samuel 7:1) And the men of Kirjathjearim came, and fetched up the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD.

Abinadab – Hebrew 41. 'Abiynadab, ab-ee-naw-dawb'; from H1 and H5068; father of generosity (i.e. liberal); Abinadab, the name of four Isr.:--Abinadab.

Eleazar – Hebrew 499. 'El'azar, el-aw-zawr'; from H410 and H5826; God (is) helper; Elazar, the name of seven Isr.:--Eleazar.

A. The Bible Says That This Was A Long Time

(1 Samuel 7:2) And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjathjearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.

long – Hebrew 7235. rabah, raw-baw'; a prim. root; to increase (in whatever respect):--[bring in] abundance (X -antly), + archer [by mistake for H7232], be in authority, bring up, X continue, enlarge, excel, exceeding (-ly), be full of, (be, make) great (-er, -ly), X -ness), grow up, heap, increase, be long, (be, give, have, make, use) many (a time), (any, be, give, give the, have) more (in number), (ask, be, be so, gather, over, take, yield) much (greater, more), (make to) multiply, nourish, plenty (-eous), X process [of time], sore, store, thoroughly, very.

Compare with 1 Samuel 5:1; 6:1, 20-21.

The Pulpit Commentary says…

The literal translation of this verse is, “And it came to pass, from the day that the ark rested at Kirjath-jearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years.” The words dwell wearily upon the length of this mournful period, during which. Israel was in a state of subjection to the Philistines, with its national life crushed to the ground, and its strength wasted by unjust exactions and misrule. For though the Philistines gave up the ark, there was no restoration of the national worship, nor did they abandon the political fruits of their victory at Eben-ezer. But quietly and calmly Samuel was labouring to put all things right. It was the principle of the theocracy that Jehovah punished his subjects for their sins by withdrawing his protection, and that on their repentance he took again his place at their head as their king, and delivered them. Samuel’s whole effort, therefore, was directed to bringing the people to repentance.

B. The Bible Says That This Was A Lamentable Time

(1 Samuel 7:2) And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjathjearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.

lamented – Hebrew 5091. nahah, naw-haw'; a prim. root; to groan, i.e. bewail; hence (through the idea of crying aloud) to assemble (as if on proclamation):--lament, wail.

Again, The Pulpit Commentary says…

All the house of Israel lamented after Jehovah. The word used here is rare, and the versions all differ in their translation of it. Really it is a happy one, embracing the two ideas of sorrow for sin, and also of returning to and gathering themselves round Jehovah. The Syriac alone retains this double meaning, by saying that “they all cast themselves down after Jehovah,” i.e. that they sought him with deep humility. Gradually, then, a change of heart came over the people.

II. The Lord Helped Us When Purity Was Applied

(1 Samuel 7:3–6)

A. Notice The Preparatory Actions Of The People

(1 Samuel 7:3) And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.

prepare – Hebrew 3559. kuwn, koon; a prim. root; prop. to be erect (i.e. stand perpendicular); hence (causat.) to set up, in a great variety of applications, whether lit. (establish, fix, prepare, apply), or fig. (appoint, render sure, proper or prosperous):--certain (-ty), confirm, direct, faithfulness, fashion, fasten, firm, be fitted, be fixed, frame, be meet, ordain, order, perfect, (make) preparation, prepare (self), provide, make provision, (be, make) ready, right, set (aright, fast, forth), be stable, (e-) stablish, stand, tarry, X very deed.

(1 Samuel 7:4-6) Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only. {5} And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the LORD. {6} And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the LORD, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the LORD. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.

The InterVarsity Press (IVP) Bible Background Commentary says…

Ashtoreth is the name of the goddess known in Canaan as Ashtar or Astarte, the consort of Baal. The use of the plural here may suggest that all deities and their consorts should be disposed of.

The Barnes’ Notes Commentary says…

Two rites are brought together here which belong especially to the Feast of Tabernacles and the Day of Atonement, respectively, namely, drawing and pouring out water, and fasting. Hence, some think that Samuel chose the Feast of tabernacles, and the fast which preceded it, as the occasion for assembling the people. Others explain the pouring out water as the pouring out the heart in penitence as it were water; or, as a symbolic act expressing their ruin and helplessness (2 Samuel 14:14); or as typifying their desire that their sins might be forgotten “as waters that pass away” (Job 11:16).

The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament also says that…

Drawing water and pouring it out before Jehovah was a symbolical act, which has been thus correctly explained by the Chaldee, on the whole: “They poured out their heart like water in penitence before the Lord.” This is evident from the figurative expressions, “poured out like water,” in Psalms 22:15, and “pour out thy heart like water,” in Lamentations 2:19, which are used to denote inward dissolution through pain, misery, and distress (see 2 Samuel 14:14). Hence the pouring out of water before God was a symbolical representation of the temporal and spiritual distress in which they were at the time.

B. Notice The Penitent (Experiencing Regret and Repentance) Acknowledgment Of The People

(1 Samuel 7:6) And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the LORD, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the LORD. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.

sinned – Hebrew 2398. chata', khaw-taw'; a prim. root; prop. to miss; hence (fig. and gen.) to sin; by infer. to forfeit, lack, expiate, repent, (causat.) lead astray, condemn:--bear the blame, cleanse, commit [sin], by fault, harm he hath done, loss, miss, (make) offend (-er), offer for sin, purge, purify (self), make reconciliation, (cause, make) sin (-ful, -ness), trespass.

Matthew Henry said…

Samuel judged them at that time in Mizpeh, that is, he assured them, in God’s name, of the pardon of their sins, upon their repentance, and that God was reconciled to them. It was a judgment of absolution.

III. The Lord Helped Us When The People Were Afraid

(1 Samuel 7:7–8)

A. Notice The Reason For Their Fear

(1 Samuel 7:7) And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines.

The major cities of the Philistines included Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron. Perhaps the “lords of the Philistines,” or princes of Philistia were the respective leaders of this so-called Philistine pentapolis. In any event, these combined forces represented a real threat to the Jews.

The Pulpit Commentary says…

When the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines. This was perfectly natural, and implied no intention on the part of the Israelites not to fight it out. No dominant nation would permit a subject race to hold such a meeting as Samuel's at Mizpah without having recourse to arms; but the Philistines acted with such promptness and vigour as brought home to the assembled Israelites not merely the conviction that they would have to fight, but that they must do it at once, and with the combined forces of the enemy.

The IVP Bible Background Commentary says…

Why do the Philistines attack when the Israelites gather for a religious observance? In the ancient Near East rituals were generally performed prior to military initiatives. One of the ways that spies or informants could tell military action was afoot was when suspicious gatherings took place for rituals not connected with known festivals.

Why would people some feel threatened when a group of God’s people start rising up to pray? Perhaps because their dominion is threatened by the higher dominion of God.

B. Notice The Response To Their Fear

(1 Samuel 7:8) And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the LORD our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.

cry – Hebrew 2199. za'aq, zaw-ak'; a prim. root; to shriek (from anguish or danger); by anal. (as a herald) to announce or convene publicly:--assemble, call (together), (make a) cry (out), come with such a company, gather (together), cause to be proclaimed.

Matthew Henry wrote…

Israel cleaves closely to Samuel, as their best friend, under God, in this distress; though he was no military man, nor ever celebrated as a mighty man of valour, yet, being afraid of the Philistines, for whom they thought themselves an unequal match, they engaged Samuel's prayers for them: Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, v. 8. They were here unarmed, unprepared for war, come together to fast and pray, not to fight; prayers and tears therefore being all the weapons many of them are now furnished with, to these they have recourse. And, knowing Samuel to have a great interest in heaven, they earnestly beg of him to improve it for them. They had reason to expect it, because he had promised to pray for them (v. 5), had promised them deliverance from the Philistines (v. 3), and they had been observant of him in all that which he had spoken to them from the Lord. Thus those who sincerely submit to Christ, as their lawgiver and judge, need not doubt of their interest in his intercession. They were very solicitous that Samuel should not cease to pray for them: what military preparations were to be made they would undertake them, but let him continue instant in prayer, perhaps remembering that when Moses did but let down his hand ever so little Amalek prevailed.

IV. The Lord Helped Us When Prayers Were Answered

(1 Samuel 7:9)

A. We See How The Lord Was Approached In Prayer

(1 Samuel 7:9) And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the LORD: and Samuel cried unto the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him.

cried (same as the word “cry” in verse 8) – Hebrew 2199. za'aq, zaw-ak'; a prim. root; to shriek (from anguish or danger); by anal. (as a herald) to announce or convene publicly:--assemble, call (together), (make a) cry (out), come with such a company, gather (together), cause to be proclaimed.

Again, Matthew Henry said…

Samuel intercedes with God for them, and does it by sacrifice, v. 9. He took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt-offering, a whole burnt-offering, to the Lord, and, while the sacrifice was in burning, with the smoke of it his prayers ascended up to heaven for Israel. Observe, 1. He made intercession with a sacrifice. Christ intercedes in the virtue of his satisfaction, and in all our prayers we must have an eye to his great oblation, depending upon that for audience and acceptance. Samuel’s sacrifice without his prayer would have been an empty shadow, his prayer without the sacrifice would not have been so prevalent, but both together teach us what great things we may expect from God in answer to those prayers which are made with faith in Christ’s sacrifice. 2. It was a burnt-offering, which was offered purely for the glory of God, so intimating that the great plea he relied on in his prayer was taken from the honour of God. “Lord, help thy people now for thy name’s sake.” When we endeavour to give glory to God we may hope he will, in answer to our prayers, work for his own glory. 3. It was but one sucking lamb that he offered; for it is the integrity and intention of the heart that God looks at, more than the bulk or number of the offerings. This one lamb (typifying the Lamb of God) was more acceptable than thousands of rams or bullocks would have been without faith and prayer.

He comes to God in the virtue of the sacrifice of the lamb, just as we can come to God in the virtue of Christ’s sacrifice.

B. We See How The Lord Was Attentive To Prayer

(1 Samuel 7:9) And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the LORD: and Samuel cried unto the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him.

The very name “Samuel” means “heard of God.” And here, he lives up to his name.

Samuel – Hebrew 8050. Shemuw'el, shem-oo-ale'; from the pass. part. of H8085 (shama – to hear intelligently) and H410 (el – Almighty God); heard of God; Shemuel, the name of three Isr.:--Samuel, Shemuel.

heard – Hebrew 6030. 'anah, aw-naw'; a prim. root; prop. to eye or (gen.) to heed, i.e. pay attention; by implication to respond; by extens. to begin to speak; spec. to sing, shout, testify, announce:--give account, afflict [by mistake for H6031], (cause to, give) answer, bring low [by mistake for H6031], cry, hear, Leannoth, lift up, say, X scholar, (give a) shout, sing (together by course), speak, testify, utter, (bear) witness.

The word “heard” indicates that God paid attention to the cry of Samuel and responded.

V. The Lord Helped Us When Philistines Were Attacking

(1 Samuel 7:10–11)

A. There Was An Element Of Divine Intervention In This Victory

(1 Samuel 7:10) And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.

thundered – Hebrew 7481. ra'am, raw-am'; a prim. root; to tumble, i.e. violently agitated; spec. to crash (of thunder); fig. to irritate (with anger):--make to fret, roar, thunder, trouble.

discomfited – Hebrew 1949. huwm, hoom; a prim. root; to make an uproar, or agitate greatly:--destroy, move, make a noise, put, ring again.

The IVP Bible Background Commentary says…

Thunder and lightning were considered to regularly accompany the presence of a deity in the ancient Near East, often in a battle setting.

Adam Clarke wrote…

[The Lord thundered with a great thunder] Literally, The Lord thundered with a great voice – He confounded them with a mighty tempest of thunder and lightning, and no doubt killed many by the lightning.

B. There Was An Element Of Dedicated Involvement In This Victory

(1 Samuel 7:11) And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Bethcar.

pursued – Hebrew 7291. radaph, raw-daf'; a prim. root; to run after (usually with hostile intent; fig. [of time] gone by):--chase, put to flight, follow (after, on), hunt, (be under) persecute (-ion, -or), pursue (-r).

smote – Hebrew 5221. nakah, naw-kaw'; a prim. root; to strike (lightly or severely, lit. or fig.):-- beat, cast forth, clap, give [wounds], X go forward, X indeed, kill, make [slaughter], murderer, punish, slaughter, slay (-er, -ing), smite (-r, -ing), strike, be stricken, (give) stripes, X surely, wound.

Bethcar – Hebrew 1033. Beyth Kar, bayth kar; from H1004 and H3733; house of pasture; Beth-Car, a place in Pal.:--Beth-car.

H3733. kar, kar; from H3769 in the sense of plumpness; a ram (as full-grown and fat), including a battering-ram (as butting); hence a meadow (as for sheep); also a pad or camel's saddle (as puffed out):--captain, furniture, lamb, (large) pasture, ram.

Bethcar might suggest the house of the battering ram, but it literally means “the house of the lamb.” They pursued the enemy from Mizpeh (the high place) to Bethcar (the low pasture).

God did His part, and the rest was up to the people.

Then notice…

(1 Samuel 7:12) Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.

Mizpeh – Hebrew 4709. Mitspah; fem. of H4708 (watch tower); Mitspah, the name of two places in Pal.

Shen – Hebrew 8129. Shen; the same as H8127 (a tooth; as being sharp); crag; Shen, a place in Pal.

Between the tower (Mizpeh) and the tooth (Shen) is the reminder that God helps His people.

Matthew Henry wrote of verse 12…

Samuel erected a thankful memorial of this victory, to the glory of God and for the encouragement of Israel, v. 12. He set up an Eben-ezer, the stone of help. If ever the people’s hard hearts should lose the impressions of this providence, this stone would either revive the remembrance of it, and make them thankful, or remain a standing witness against them for their unthankfulness. 1. The place where this memorial was set up was the same where, twenty years before, the Israelites were smitten before the Philistines, for that was beside Eben-ezer, ch. 4:1. The sin which procured that defeat formerly being pardoned upon their repentance, the pardon was sealed by this glorious victory in the very same place where they then suffered loss. 2. Samuel himself took care to set up this monument. He had been instrumental by prayer to obtain the mercy, and therefore he thought himself in a special manner obliged to make this grateful acknowledgement of it. 3. The reason he gives for the name is, Hitherto the Lord hath helped us, in which he speaks thankfully of what was past, giving the glory of the victory to God only, who had added this to all his former favours;


Robert Robinson was born on September 27, 1735, in Swaffham, Norfolk, England. At the age of 14, his widowed mother sent him to London to learn a trade as a barber. However, his master found that young Robert enjoyed reading more than work. He was converted to Christ at the age of 17, and he later became a Methodist minister. He would later become a Baptist, and he pastured for some time in Cambridge, England.

He wrote a number of hymns, but judging from a well-known story about his hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” his later life (he only lived to be 55) was evidently not an easy one. The account is that one day, Robinson encountered a woman who was studying a hymnal, and she asked how he liked the hymn she was humming, which was his hymn. In tears, he replied, ““Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.”

From the second stanza come these familiar words…

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.

Perhaps at some point, he had gotten away from his Ebenezer. But I hope that I never get away from mine. And I hope that you set yours up and never depart from it; I pray that we will always remember that the Lord has helped us!

(Ephesians 3:20-21) Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, {21} Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

John Newton ultimately became captain of his own ship, one which plied the slave trade.

Although he had had some early religious instruction from his mother, who had died when he was a child, he had long since given up any religious convictions. However, on a homeward voyage, while he was attempting to steer the ship through a violent storm, he experienced what he was to refer to later as his “great deliverance.” He recorded in his journal that when all seemed lost and the ship would surely sink, he exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy upon us.” Later in his cabin he reflected on what he had said and began to believe that God had addressed him through the storm and that grace had begun to work for him.

For the rest of his life he observed the anniversary of May 10, 1748 as the day of his conversion (at the age of 22), a day of humiliation in which he subjected his will to a higher power. “Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ‘tis grace has bro’t me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”

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