Background Story: In chapters 2 through 6 of 1 Samuel, the Ark of the Covenant falls into the hands of the Philistines due to the disobedience and idolatry of Eli’s sons and the people. Finally after some pretty epic circumstances (check out chapter 2-6), the Philistines finally deliver the Ark back to the Israelites.
Read 1 Samuel 7: 1-12
So the men of Kiriath Jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord. They brought it to Abinadab’s house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the Lord. 2 The ark remained at Kiriath Jearim a long time—twenty years in all. Then all the people of Israel turned back to the Lord. 3 So Samuel said to all the Israelites, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only,and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only.
5 Then Samuel said, “Assemble all Israel at Mizpah, and I will intercede with the Lord for you.” 6 When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.” Now Samuel was serving as leader of Israel at Mizpah.
7 When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. When the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines. 8 They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.” 9 Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and sacrificed it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. He cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him.
10 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites.11 The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar.
12 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.”
Big Idea: Faith arises when we remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness in the past.
Last weekend we went hiking at a national park. In the middle of nowhere amongst the trees at the top of a mountain stood this massive memorial to commemorate a famous American Revolutionary War battle. It was placed there so that everyone who passed that spot would remember and reflect. In this story, the Israelites set up a similar stone which they called, Ebenezer meaning, “Thus far the Lord has helped us” to remember God’s forgiveness and faithfulness.
Mary, the mother of Jesus set up a memorial stone of sorts in her heart. After receiving the call from God to be the mother of Jesus, she dealt with the accusations of others and witnessed the amazing miracles surrounding Jesus’ birth. After Mary sees the star and the shepherds who came to worship Jesus, the Bible says in Luke 2:19, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Another translation says, “but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.”
When we ponder and remember the goodness and faithfulness of God in the past, it gives us faith in the present. When we look back and say, “Thus far the Lord has helped us,” we can feel faith rise up in our hearts that the God who was faithful before, will come through again! Today, look back and set up memorials in your heart remembering God’s faithfulness. Take time to thank and praise Him for the times He rescued you, protected you, and provided for you. If you are going through a trial now, praise Him for His faithfulness in the past and feel faith rise up in your heart as your eyes lift from your circumstance to the greatness of God.