Every Blessing

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
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.

This is my favorite verses in all of hymnody because it speaks to setting up markers to remember the things God has done. Robert Robinson was only 20 years old when he wrote this song so he is exhibiting maturity far beyond his young age. He recognizes that life is temporary and is often painful. We can hear in his voice the weariness of the daily struggle with sin. We can almost hear a cry to be released from this struggle and to be present with his Father in heaven, something I think we can all understand, but this must have been even greater desire for this fatherless young soul. But he also recognizes that he is not yet wanted in heaven; that he must continue his journey in the world and in order to help him cope with this struggle, he is lifting up the memories of what God has done as markers of praise and thanksgiving to encourage himself to keep going. Do you see the word Ebenezer? Yes, it is the name of a Charles Dickens character from his famous story “A Christmas Carol”, but the word Robert Robinson uses is actually from 1 Samuel chapter 7. In that passage, the Prophet Samuel has spoken on behalf of God and has demanded that the entire nation of Israel stop worshipping false gods and to get rid of anything that was in honor of any other god but the one True God. As a result of their faithfulness, God lead the people of Israel to a sudden and unexpected victory over the Philistine army. In 1 Samuel 7 verse 12, we read this, “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’” So we see then that an Ebenezer is a stone of remembrance, a stone that marks the place where God has worked in the life of His children.

Music serves as one of the ways that I hold up Ebenezers. Music is the primary avenue through which I return to times and people and ways that I have experienced God’s presence in my life. My guess is that when many of you longtime Christians, the people like myself that I’ve been calling Seasoned Saints, hear a certain song or hymn, you immediately go to a place in your history where God did something special for you. That would be an Ebenezer – it is a mechanism through which you use to remember where God helped you on your journey. Different songs help us understand the Bible and doctrine, but also, in the same way that Samuel raised up his Ebenezer – his Stone of Remembrance – there are songs that help us remember both Who we are, and Whose we are, where we have been and where we are going.
Take a little time this weekend and think back over your life and look for the Ebenezer’s!


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