Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
So what comes to your mind when you sing this? The word “Ebenezer” immediately brings to my mind visions of old Ebenezer Scrooge from Dickens’ Christmas Carol, yelling at Bob Cratchet to conserve coal and get to work. Is THIS the idea behind this song? Hardly!
Where, then, does the term Ebenezer originate, and what does it mean?
In 1 Samuel 7, the prophet Samuel and the Israelites found themselves under attack (again) by the Philistines. Fearing for their lives, the people begged Samuel to pray for them in this battle against the Philistines. Samuel offered a sacrifice to God and prayed for His protection. God answers, and the Philistines lose the battle and retreat back to their own territory.
“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us’ ” (1 Samuel 7:12).
The word Ebenezer comes from the Hebrew words ’Eben hà-ezer (eh’-ben haw-e’-zer),which simply mean “stone of help” . The songwriter followed the word Ebenezer with the phrase, “Here by Thy great help I’ve come.” An Ebenezer, then, is simply a memorial stone set up to remember the great help that God granted the one raising the stone.
The next time you sing about raising your Ebenezer, you will know that you are remembering and praising God for being a Helper in your life!