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This morning, my favorite Sunday program concluded with “Come, Thou Font of Every Blessing.” Written in 1757 by Robert Robinson, it has touched the souls of many for nearly two and a half centuries. I cannot listen to that song and not feel the resolve to prepare my own heart that one day my Lord may “take and seal it—seal it for [his] courts above.”

While listening to a choir sing the beloved hymn, a line stood out that I had never understood: “Here I raise my Ebenezer.”

The story begins in I Samuel 7:5-12:

And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the Lord. And they gathered together to Mizpeh. . . .

And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines.  And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.

And Samuel. . . cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him. And as . . . the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. . . the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them [caused them confusion]; and they were smitten before Israel. . . .

Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.

Kyle Butt, after relating the story, teaches, “The word Ebenezer comes from the Hebrew words ‘Eben hâ-ezer (eh-ben haw-e’-zer), which simply mean ‘stone of help.’ When Robinson wrote his lyrics, he followed the word Ebenezer with the phrase, ‘Here by Thy great help I’ve come.’ An Ebenezer, then, is simply a monumental stone set up to signify the great help that God granted the one raising the stone. In Robinson’s poem, it figuratively meant that the writer—and all who subsequently sing the song—acknowledge God’s bountiful blessings and help in their lives” Kyle Butt, M.A., Apologetics Press).  

I love hymns. They have the power to touch our hearts and help us be better people. And now I know what is meant to “raise my Ebenezer” because each day I am blessed by God’s mercy.

“I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also,” (1 Corinthians 14:15).