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Raising a Stone of Help

Raising a Stone of Help

As Samuel grew up, the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. I Samuel 3:19

The story of the prophet Samuel is a remarkable journey of faith, as the barren woman Elkanah is blessed with a child of promise, an answer to her own prayers. She then dedicates her son to the Lord, allowing him to be raised by Eli the priest. God speaks to Samuel when he is a young boy and prophesies through him the destruction of Eli's household because Eli's sons are faithless. But Eli raises Samuel to know the Lord, and it is in that context that we hear “the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.” What an amazing comment that is on the relationship shared between God and this boy Samuel.

Later in life, Samuel's prayers for his people are answered in a very direct way as he cries out to God, first in confession for Israel's sins and then on behalf of Israel as the Philistines are about to attack (I Sam. 7:5-11). In response to Samuel's prayers, God “thundered with a mighty voice that day against the Philistines and them into confusion” (I Sam. 7:10), and Israel is victorious when they expect defeat. As a demonstration of faith, Samuel then takes a stone and sets it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and names it Ebenezer (Stone of Help), and says, “Thus far the LORD has helped us” (I Sam. 7:12).

We used to sing the song “O Thou Fount Of Every Blessing,” which includes the words, Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I've come. But do we share the relationship of faith that Samuel and God shared? Do we trust in God and know that none of our words fall to the ground? Perhaps we need to remind ourselves, even by a physical demonstration like Samuel's Ebenezer, that “thus far the LORD has helped us.” Let us sing and believe with John Newton, 'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home. May we all, from youngest to oldest, trust that not one of our prayers simply falls to the ground.

John O. York

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