The Watchman's Ebenezer
“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the LORD has helped us." (1 Samuel 7:2)
“Thus far...” What did Samuel mean by that statement and the way he said it? “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
Did he mean, “God helped to this point, but I’m not sure if God will help any further?” Samuel’s entire life is a testimony to God’s faithfulness; he would never question God’s desire or ability to help. Samuel later reminded God’s people,
“Indeed, for the sake of His great name the LORD will not abandon His people, because He was pleased to make you His own.” (1 Sam. 12:22)
Was Samuel suggesting he wondered if God would help them going forward? “Sure, God helped us today, but tomorrow He might be busy.” Again, not likely. The principle behind Hebrews 13:8 was based on God’s history of faithfulness. “God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Samuel saw God’s faithfulness to King Saul who failed. He saw God’s faithfulness to David, even when he made mistakes as a king and a man. Samuel lived through wars and famines and great national tragedies, but he did not doubt God’s faithfulness.
Did Samuel mean geographically that far but no farther? This one is easy—No. God’s provision has no boundaries. King David wrote in Psalm 139, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.”
Was Samuel questioning how much assistance God would offer? Does God have limits to His power? Is this as far as He can help us? “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” God doesn’t leave the job partially finished. He does not get tired (Genesis 18:14; Isaiah 59:1; Numbers 11:23).
The prophet Jeremiah states it clearly and profoundly: "Oh, Lord GOD! You have made the heavens and earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for You!” (Jeremiah 32:17)
The Psalmist declares, “Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” (Psalm 24:7,8)
God further proves His strength by strengthening us (Isaiah 40:29-31; Daniel 10:19). “This far” is not a measurement of how much power God has.
Did Samuel mean God ran out of patience? He drew a line in the sand when He said, “this far” is all God will take? No. His grace is inexhaustible. “But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
A Holy Marker
Samuel stood up a stone as a marker, a monument, a pillar that marked the spot. It was not the end, it was only a trail-marker. It marked a moment in time more than a place on the map.
Samuel named the Ebenezer [Hebrew: Eben-haezer]. Ebenezer means, “the Stone of Help” and they erected a large stone there to commemorate God defeating the Philistines. They rightly memorialized that spot as a place of God’s supernatural intervention.
The Israelites didn’t have more soldiers, bigger guns, or a superior general. They faced an army of giants [Goliath was a Philistine], but 1 Samuel 7:10 says, “the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines…” Describing God’s voice, the Hebrew uses the word for a literal thunder and lightning storm. Some Philistines may have indeed been struck by lightning. Jewish historian Josephus also notes there was an earthquake.
Many Old Testament events, altars, locations, wells, mountains, and other landmarks were given unique names which held specific meaning. They were named so people would remember the event or sacrifice that happened there.
“There he built an altar, and they called the place El Bethel…” (Genesis 35:7)
“He called the place Beersheba, because they made an oath there.” (Genesis 21:31)
“So Jacob set up a pillar in the place where God had spoken to him--a stone marker--and he poured out a drink offering on it and anointed it with oil.” (Genesis 35:14)
“Jacob said, “This is God’s camp.” So, he called that place Mahanaim.” (Genesis 32:2)
“The Joshua took a large stone and set it up under the oak that was near the sanctuary of the LORD.” (Joshua 24:26)
“David called the place Baal-Perazim, because he said, “Like a flood the LORD jumped in front of me and fought my enemies.” (2 Samuel 5:20)
“Then Samson named that place En Hakkore ["The Spring of the One Who Cried Out,"] and it is still in Lehi to this day.” (Judges 15:19)
“So he called the name of that place Taberah because there the fire of the LORD burned among them.” (Numbers 11:3)
“Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-nissi (which means "the LORD is my banner").” (Exodus 17:15)
“And Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and named it Yahweh-Shalom [which means "the LORD is peace"].” (Judges 6:24)
“And Abraham called the place Jehovah-jireh: [The LORD Will provide.]” (Genesis 22:14)
Does your story have a marker? A historical moment? A place where God has brought you? What, Where (or perhaps When), is your Ebenezer Stone?
God will not bring you to a place to abandon you there. He is moving you and circumstances, and facing down the enemy on your behalf. You may not hear thunder or see lightning, or feel an earthquake, but know that God is fighting your battles.
Watchmen, declare God’s blessings over your life. Recall the victories He has won. Praise Him for breakthroughs and rejoice in His mercy. Say it out loud! Be bold. Say with David, “I will remember the works of the LORD; yes, I will remember Your wonders of old.” (Psalm 77:11)
Samuel’s last words to Israel before his death were, “Above all, fear the LORD and serve Him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things He has done for you.” (1 Samuel 12:24)
Fear the LORD.
Serve Him faithfully with all your heart.
Consider what great things He has done for you.
Raise up your Ebenezer Watchmen. Finish well.
©2018 iamawatchman, Inc. All rights reserved.
I Am A Watchman Ministries materials are copyrighted. Use and redistribution are subject to standard Fair Use Guidelines – Any use in published work (either print or ebooks) must include the copyright reference: “Copyrighted resource of iamawatchman, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.” NOTE: Articles which are re-posted online, in part or total, must include the above statement. We ask that re-posts also include an active link to www.iamawatchman.com