Which Ebenezer?

Several years ago I "thanked" a friend of mine for ruining my music-listening experience.  He did so by encouraging me to pay attention to the lyrics rather than merely the tune.  Songs that once earned my turn-the-dial-up interest soon faced rejection.  It became difficult to sing along with lyrics with which I disagreed.  As a result, my Jeep stereo and my WalkMan (remember those?) blared different tunes than before. 

I also began to give more attention to the songs I sang along with the rest of our church as we turned to various page numbers in the Baptist Hymnal. 
Do you know . . .
     "God of Earth and Outerspace"?
Does it seem odd to you to sing that we should go . . .
     "Onward, [as] Christian Soldiers"?
Or that "the joy we share as we tarry [in the garden] . . .
     ". . . none other has every known"?    

Other lyrics confused me.
For years I sang verse two of "Come, Thou Fount . . ." having zero idea what I declared when I loudly proclaimed, "Here I raise mine Ebenezer; Hither."  For two reasons:
(1) I didn't know (still not sure) the word "hither."
(2) I thought Ebenezer was only the first name created by Charles Dickens.

I'll leave "hither" for some day yonder and will not tarry there.  Rather, I will continue with a word about Ebenezer.  Someone (I fail to remember who and, therefore, cannot express proper gratitude) finally explained that word to me as they spoke of 1 Samuel 7.  Ebenezer is the Hebrew name with which Samuel deemed a stone.  The word means "stone of help."  It recalled the help the Hebrew people received from the LORD as they conquered a Philistine army at Mizpah. 

If one is familiar with the Ebenezer of 1 Samuel 7, they may still be unaware of its previous mention in 1 Samuel 4.

And Samuel’s word came to all Israel.  Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek.
1 Samuel 4:1 (NIV)

Note what happened there.

The Philistines deployed their forces to meet Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand of them on the battlefield.
1 Samuel 4:2 (NIV)

The first mention of Ebenezer (1 Samuel 4) recalls pain; the second mention (1 Samuel 7) urges gratitude.

Yesterday people across America took time to remember - specifically, by giving tribute to the memory of all the Americans who died while serving in our military. 

The interesting thing about memories is that they can inspire gratitude or drag one into misery and/or anger.  During times of remembering, which Ebenezer do you raise? 
- One that recalls failure / defeat / betrayal / sorrow?
- One that recalls success / victory / God's grace / joy?

We have a choice.  Choose wisely as you raise an Ebenezer.


No comments:

Post a Comment