1 Samuel 6–10: Ebenezer & A King

Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 12: Tuesday

Thus Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. And he used to go annually on circuit to Bethel and Gilgal and Mizpah, and he judged Israel in all these places. But his return would be to Ramah, for his house was there, and there he judged Israel; and he built there an altar to Yahweh.
1 Samuel 7:15–17 LSB

Today’s Bible reading is 1 Samuel 6–10.

Upon their theft of the Ark, the Lord smites the Philistines—some are killed and some have tumors break out on them. 1 Samuel 6 and 7 recount the Philistines’ return of the Ark to Israel, but as Samuel is preparing to offer sacrifices to God, the Philistines come to attack. They are, however, routed when God confuses them, and then pursued and defeated by Israel.

Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and he named it Ebenezer. And he said, “Thus far Yahweh has helped us.”
So the Philistines were subdued, and they did not come anymore within the border of Israel. And the hand of Yahweh was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. And the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron even to Gath; and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. So there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.
1 Samuel 7:12–14 LSB

I have always loved the hymn, Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. One of the words in the second verse of the hymn refers to a verse in last Tuesday’s Bible reading of 1 Samuel 4:1, and it’s also in today’s reading in 1 Samuel 7:14.

The word is Ebenezer, literally, the stone of help. In 1 Samuel 4:1, it’s named as the place Israel camped before the Philistines defeated them in battle, taking the Ark of the Covenant and killing Eli’s sons, but in today’s reading Samuel sets . In 1 Samuel 7:12, Samuel sets up a stone between Mizpah and Shen, and calls it Ebenezer.

Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and he named it Ebenezer. And he said, “Thus far Yahweh has helped us.”
1 Samuel 7:12 LSB
Stained Glass Window: 1 Samuel 7:2-14

A place name remembered as a defeat will now be remembered as the name of a monument to God’s help and victory. Isn’t that wonderful?

1 Samuel 8–10, tells of Israel’s rejection of God as their king and their demand to be like other nations with a man to rule them as king. Despite Samuel’s warning that having a king will bring changes they won’t like, they persist in their desire and Saul is anointed by Samuel to be Israel’s first king.

This is the second verse of Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.1

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’m 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.

The greatest Ebenezer in the lives of Christians is when Jesus sought us and brought us into the fold of God. Remember that. Thank God.

God helps us continually in our lives, but there are times we can look back and see a significant milestone when God helped in a crucial time in our life. What are your Ebenezers? Think back. What are the significant milestones you can recall when God helped you? Write them down. It can be an encouragement to you in the present to see how God has helped you in the past. Even today, and every day, “Thus far Yahweh has helped us.”

May God bless you as you read His Word, and may He take your places of defeat and change them to monuments to His help and victory.

Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
A stained-glass window (German, 1728) at Pena Palace, in Sintra, Portugal. It includes a depiction of the Israelites defeating the Philistines, after Samuel has offered a sacrifice at Eben-Ezer (1 Samuel 7:2-14).: Public Domain.
1“Come, Thou Fount,” Worship and Service Hymnal For Church, School, and Home (Hope Publishing Company, Chicago: 1957) Hymn 104.

I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.

Copyright ©2021–2023 Iwana Carpenter

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