The Place Where God Helped Us
7 When the Philistines heard that Israel was meeting at Mizpah, the Philistine leaders went on the offensive. Israel got the report and became frightened—Philistines on the move again!
8 They pleaded with Samuel, “Pray with all your might! And don’t let up! Pray to God, our God, that he’ll save us from the boot of the Philistines.”
9 Samuel took a young lamb not yet weaned and offered it whole as a Whole-Burnt-Offering to God. He prayed fervently to God, interceding for Israel. And God answered.
10-12 While Samuel was offering the sacrifice, the Philistines came within range to fight Israel. Just then God thundered, a huge thunderclap exploding among the Philistines. They panicked—mass confusion!—and ran helter-skelter from Israel. Israel poured out of Mizpah and gave chase, killing Philistines right and left, to a point just beyond Beth Car. Samuel took a single rock and set it upright between Mizpah and Shen. He named it “Ebenezer” (Rock of Help), saying, “This marks the place where God helped us.”
13-14 The Philistines learned their lesson and stayed home—no more border crossings. God was hard on the Philistines all through Samuel’s lifetime. All the cities from Ekron to Gath that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored. Israel also freed the surrounding countryside from Philistine control. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.
15-17 Samuel gave solid leadership to Israel his entire life. Every year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah. He gave leadership to Israel in each of these places. But always he would return to Ramah, where he lived, and preside from there. That is where he built an altar to God.
1 Samuel 7:7-17 (MSG)
I am finding the meaning behind this message in my own Ebenezer story. It’s hard to get past the violence of it all when reading it literally or just at surface level. Once I broke the tension of the surface and dove deeper into the text I found myself in the trauma room with my six-day-old. I found myself in a room where the only thing I could do was pray. Every aspect of this moment was beyond anything I could ever do to fix it. No fighting, no hiding, no training, no good deeds that I did would have changed anything. I just was in this moment, fully trusting and dependant on God. It is where I set up my stone, my own Ebenezer.
This is the trust and faith God would like from me all of the time. For me to know the He is God, and I’m not. I don’t believe I’ve ever truly given something to any kind of higher power in such a way. I’ve tried, unsuccessfully. I’m controlling and letting go is difficult, until there’s nothing to grasp but my own hands in prayer.
That’s trusting in God. I wasn’t a philosopher, Bishop, seminary professor, or biblical scholar. I was barely a believer. Yet, I sat there fully surrounded by the Holy Spirit and aware of it, and fully trusting that God would save my baby. And that’s what He did.
I just wish I could put this trust in my daily life. In the mornings catching up on news, during the day wondering how to get everything finished, while helping with my children’s homework, and at night when my thoughts take over. Hopefully, next time I find myself completely trusting that it won’t be so dramatic.