“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
Who has never needed help at one point or another? In some ways, we all are products of help, whether human or divine. It is said that Alex Haley, the author of Roots, had an unusual picture hanging on his office wall. It was a picture of a turtle on top of a fence post. Inscribed underneath the picture were these words: “He didn’t get there on his own. He had help.”
It is one thing to be helped by man but another to be helped by God. There are times when we realise that “the help of man is useless.”(Ps 60:11). There was a time that things got so bad in Israel that even the king could not help his people. When a woman desperately cried out to the king for help, “The king replied, “If the Lord does not help you, where can I find help for you?””(2 Kg 6:27). The king recognised that what was beyond his capability was not beyond God. So, God is our true and enduring source of help. Indeed, “Happy (blessed, fortunate, enviable) is he who has the God of … Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” (Psalm 146:5 AMP)
Biblically, ‘to help’ means to aid, to provide succour or support. David was a man who knew God as his ultimate helper. He said, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills -From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2). The nation of Israel also knew that what really made the difference in any conflict they faced was whom the Lord was helping. The outcome wasn’t dependent on the size of their army or the quality of their weapon, rather, what mattered was whom God was helping. When King Asa faced a formidable Ethiopian army, this was his reaction, “And Asa cried out to the Lord his God, and said, “Lord, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!” (2 Chronicles 14:11).
When the Philistines, who were Israel’s overlords at this time, heard that Israel had gathered at Mizpah, following the summons by Samuel, they mobilised to attack the children of Israel. In fear, the people urged Samuel to pray for them so that God would deliver them from the Philistines. Samuel quickly offered a sacrifice and cried out to God on behalf of the people. “Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the Lord thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel.” (1 Samuel 7:10). Through the help of God, Israel gained the upper hand against their enemies. 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).
Ebenezer literally means “Stone of Help.” It was a memorial stone to commemorate what the Lord had done for them. Samuel was acknowledging that up to that point, God had helped Israel. But he also recognised that the Philistines had not yet been totally annihilated. They still posed a challenge to Israel. Thus, Samuel wanted Ebenezer to be a reference point for Israel that the God who had given them victory at this time will also be there to help them in the future. Any time they are tempted to doubt, all they needed to do was look at this memorial stone. It stood as a witness and evidence that God would help His people when they call upon Him.
We read in Acts 14:17 “Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” Paul was saying that God never left Himself without witness or evidence (see NIV and NLT). As we look around our lives too, we shall find evidence of God’s help in the past. What the Lord has done in your life in the past provides an anchor to your faith in your present challenges.
When people or circumstances suggest to you that “there is no help for you in God” (Psalm 3:2), all you need to do is call the witness from the past, refer to your memorial stones. We need to learn how to use our testimony as a weapon of warfare. David knew how to do that. When Saul tried to dissuade him from taking on Goliath, David made reference to his memorial stones. He called up the witness of God’s dealings with him in the wilderness. Today, we will consider them as his testimony. He recounted how God had helped him to fight and kill the bear and the lion while he was keeping his father’s sheep. Therefore, the God who helped him against the bear and the lion will also help him against “this uncircumcised Philistines!”(1 Samuel 17). God helped David to defeat Goliath.
In his book entitled, In the Footsteps of a Prophet, Jerry Savelle recounts an experience that happened early in his Christian life. His second daughter, Terri, when she was eight months old had an accident in the Church. Two of her fingers were accidentally cut when she crawled under a rocking chair. The best plastic surgeon in the state examined the child and concluded that she could never have those two fingers fully grown again. Through standing by faith in the Word, God miraculously did the impossible, He restored those fingers. Even the doctor recognised that this was beyond science. Jerry Savelle confessed that, “Over the years, any time Satan would say, “Impossible, impossible, impossible,” concerning any situation (italics mine) I would say to Terri, “May I borrow your fingers?” Then he would hold the little fingers and say (italics mine), “Satan, look at this. What did you say? Impossible? Look at this! God did it and if He did the impossible once, then He can do it again.”
In each of our lives there is something we can also hold up against the lies of the devil. We all have testimonies of what God has done in the past. Now, learn how to use it as evidence against the devil. Learn to confess: “For the Lord God will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced; Therefore I have set My face like a flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed.” (Isaiah 50:7). We need to have faith in God’s faithfulness, we need to trust Him. (Psalm 20:7-8; Jeremiah 17:7-8).
GOD OUR HELPER
The writer of Hebrews said “Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God]Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not,[I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!] So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6 AMP). We must unreservedly and constantly confess that God is our helper, “….A very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1).
In life, we shall always face situations where we will need to seek God’s help either individually or corporately. “So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 20:4). God often responds to the desperate cry for help (Matthew 15:25). At such times, we can pray like the prophet, “I have heard all about you, Lord. I am filled with awe by your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by. And in your anger, remember your mercy.” ( Habakkuk 3:2 NLT). We can rest assured that help is on the way.