Long before a cold-hearted miser named Ebenezer Scrooge was conceived in the mind of Charles Dickens, there was a battlefield called Ebenezer.
“Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle and camped at Ebenezer” (1 Samuel 4:1, CSB). It was there, at Ebenezer, that an era ended. The two wicked sons of Eli and thirty thousand other Israeli warriors died in battle. After four decades as the priest and national leader, Eli died in grief (1 Samuel 5:10-18).
For the next twenty years (1 Samuel 7:2), the nation lived under Philistine subjection. But with Samuel as both prophet and judge, God’s chosen people were being drawn back to the Living God. In fact, “the whole house of Israel longed for the Lord” (1 Samuel 7:2, CSB).
Samuel gathered the people for a nationwide revival meeting and proclaimed God’s timeless truth! When “my people, who bear my name, humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, CSB). He declared, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, get rid of the foreign gods ... set your hearts on the Lord, and worship only him. Then he will rescue you from the Philistines” (1 Samuel 7:13, CSB).
Folks, I believe that God is waiting for His people to “long for the Lord,” that He is ready for those “who bear His name” to “humble themselves, pray and seek” His mercy.
Ok... just about the time the revival meeting was coming to a close, as they were preparing to sing three stanzas of “Just as I Am,” the Philistines marched in. “When the Israelites heard about it, they were afraid because of the Philistines. The Israelites said to Samuel, ‘Don’t stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, so that he will save us from the Philistines’ ” (1 Samuel 7:7–8, CSB).
“The Philistines approached to fight against Israel. The Lord thundered loudly against the Philistines that day and threw them into such confusion that they were defeated by Israel. Then the men of Israel charged out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines striking them down... Afterward, Samuel took a stone and set it upright. He named it Ebenezer, explaining, ‘The Lord has helped us to this point’ ” (1 Samuel 7:10-12, CSB).
Twenty years earlier, the selfish and self-centered Jews had been soundly defeated at Ebenezer. Now, a repentant and dependent people enjoyed a miraculous victory, overthrowing their oppressors. To commemorate God’s victory, Samuel erected a memorial, and he named it “Ebenezer... the Lord has helped us!”
Come Thou fount of every blessing Tune my heart to sing Thy grace Streams of mercy never ceasing Call for songs of loudest praise...
Here I raise my Ebenezer Here by Thy great help I've come!