What is an Ebenezer Stone?

During difficult times, let this Bible story remind you of God’s presence in your life.

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Posted in , May 19, 2022

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The Books of Samuel are filled with battles, the anointing of a king, and the legendary story of the Ark of the Covenant. Yet one scene stands out as a powerful testament to the presence of God. After the Israelites defeated the Philistines in battle, Samuel sets up a kind of memorial. A reminder so they would never forget who aided them in their victory. 

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.” — 1 Samuel 7:12 

Ebenezer is a Hebrew word that means “stone of help.” It has become synonymous with the idea of God reaching down to lend a helping hand to those most in need.  

Alexandra Hoover, an author and ministry leader, has always felt deeply connected to the story of Ebenezer. She’s written about the concept in her new book Eyes Up: How to Trust God’s Heart by Tracing His Hand

“Samuel’s memorial becomes a sanctum for God's help in the life of the Israelites in a time where death and rubble were all that they saw,” she says. “With this Ebenezer, the Lord invited the Israelites to look back at this place so that they could remember that God had met them.”   

READ MORE: How to pray the word “Ebenezer” 

We see the presence of a stone to mark God’s help in other parts of the Bible. In Genesis, Jacob set up a stone marker in the place where God spoke to him. Joshua placed a large stone under an oak tree that was near a sanctuary of the Lord.  

Hoover says we can use this idea of an Ebenezer in our own lives. They are moments when God has helped us that we can look back on during times of difficulty or uncertainty. A kind of life buoy to hold onto when the waters of our life get stormy.  

An Ebenezer can be anything – a family heirloom, a keepsake, a memory – anything that reminds you of a moment in your life when you felt God’s presence. Hoover recalls how her 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Carpenter, was there for her during a time when she needed hope and encouragement. “For me, Ebenezers weren't ever physical items,” said Hoover. “Oftentimes, they're people.” 

Finding our Ebenezers in life doesn’t have to be tricky. Hoover says that when we are looking for our own, what we are really looking for is places where God has met us. Sometimes, these are during particularly painful moments in our lives, but Hoover says this is exactly the point. 

“Oftentimes we think that the presence of pain means the absence of God. It's not true. Take a moment to look back on the ways God has met you in moments that seemed liked happenstance,” she said. “Noticing his hand, noticing his grace, is the greatest way that we can build these spiritual memorial stones to remember the work of Christ in us.”  

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