READ: 1 Samuel 7-9, Psalm 83, John 15, Ephesians 4
“Thus far the Lord has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:12)
The entire history of God’s people reveals unfaithfulness. Even mighty Samuel could not keep his flock (or his sons) from sin. Often we glamorize the Ebenezer stone as a commemoration of our man’s faithfulness. We read into the text that God’s people had been faithful over long periods, therefore He has helped them, ergo we are thankful. In reality it has been twenty brutal years in which the people have been idolatrous. For twenty years the ark of God sits idle in Kirjath Jearim while God’s people serve foreign gods and goddesses.
Samuel confronts the people, they repent, and a sacrifice is offered. In the middle of Samuel’s sacrifice the enemy attacks: God thunders, confuses the enemy, and Israel overcomes them. It is intriguing that God confuses our enemies when we sacrifice; it is important that in this context that Samuel sets up the Ebenezer stone.
Israel did not have a legacy of faithfulness. Israel had only just reconciled with God (literally at the very moment God acted they were being forgiven for years of idolatry). God intervenes the instant He forgives. The Ebenezer stone is just as much a testament to the peoples’ waywardness as it is to God’s faithfulness. Samuel erects the stone as a reminder of the constant need for God’s help. The Ebenezer stone is raised because we are prone to wander. God has helped us, and He has helped us when we did not deserve it, and He has helped us when our legacy is shameful, and He has helped us when we repented. An Ebenezer stone reminds us that we continually need help for we are continually stupid.
A continual reminder of our folly should not discourage us, and it will not discourage us, as long as we understand that God will continually help us if we ask Him to. Samuel is in effect saying: “God delivered you when you did not deserve it. You have not deserved it, you do not deserve it, you will never deserve it. This is the nature of God. He is faithful when we are faithless. He does not change. LIVE, THEREFORE, EVERY MOMENT DEPENDENT ON GOD.” Ebenezer stones help us remember that we are continually craven and God is constantly good; therefore, we are always completely dependent on God to help us. Initial deliverance, ongoing provision, subsequent victories are all acts of God. God always rescues the humble. He never rescues the proud.