Sunday, October 11, 2009

"Hither by Thy Help I’m Come"

Delivered On: October 4th 2009
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell

Some 3,000 years ago, Samuel the prophet led ancient Israel to victory over a powerful enemy. Samuel placed a large stone at the place of their deliverance and dedicated it as a monument to God’s assistance. He called the stone “Eben-ezer,” which meant “stone of help.” The stone became a symbol of the Lord’s goodness and strength.[1]
This practice of raising memorials to divine help has deep roots in ancient Israel. Generations earlier, after the Israelites crossed the mighty Jordan River on dry ground and entered the promised land, their leader, Joshua, commanded the people to gather 12 stones from the river and build a monument. He explained that the purpose of the monument was to build faith in future generations, that “when [their] children ask . . . in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?” they could tell their children how the Lord helped them in their hour of need.[2]
The beloved hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” alludes to this biblical practice with these words:
Here I raise my Ebenezer;Hither by Thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Life is full of rivers to cross, full of challenges to overcome. However, those who see with an eye of faith understand that they did not cross their rivers alone. In a way, each of us could raise an Ebenezer, a memorial of the divine assistance, heavenly favor, and forgiveness extended to us. It may not be a monument of stone—indeed, hearts filled with humility and gratitude are the most meaningful memorials. Whatever form our memorial takes, acknowledging the help we’ve received renews our hope that by His good pleasure and in His due time, we will safely arrive at home.

1. See 1 Samuel 7:7-12
2. See Joshua 4: 1-7

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