A Standing Moment of Remembrance
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” — 1 Samuel 7:12
Today, which is called Memorial Day, is a day set aside for remembering men and women whose lives were lost in service to this country. It's a day we reflect on and remember the sacrifices others have made for us. And remembering is important because as we do, we recall loved ones and lasting lessons that should never be canceled, dismissed, destroyed, rewritten, or forgotten. In these moments, we often resurrect monuments that hopefully outlast our short memory. They become a more permanent reminder of what slips our minds about history.
Coming back to our verse from today, there's a powerful story behind this moment. Samuel, one of Israel's judges, was calling for this day in Israel's history to become a day of remembrance. It was so important that he "stood up" a stone and named it Ebenezer, which meant "Till now the Lord has helped us." And the story is profound.
So Samuel, at this moment, has gathered the nation of Israel for a day of repentance. It was a national call for a return to God and to live all in for him. Throughout the day, he instructed them, prayed for them, and made commitments with them as they cried out in repentance to God. Meanwhile, their arch enemy, the Philistines, gathered forces to destroy them while they were defenseless. So while the nation of Israel is worshipping, the Philistines surround them. Completely surrounded, exposed, and unarmed, Samuel calls out to the people from the altar of God and commands them to proceed with worship. As the Philistines approach the border of the meeting, Samuel offers a sacrifice on the altar for the nation's sin — a spotless lamb whose life is given for their disobedience and sin. And listen to what happened next.
But the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel. And the men of Israel went out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and struck them, as far as below Beth-car. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” — 1 Samuel 7:10-12
Samuel was a leader who understood this one thing — that people are prone to forget. To forget all the great things God has done for them. And to help them remember, he made the people stand up a stone. A standing stone. To remind them of all the great things God had done and will do for those who call on him.
As you remember today, reflect on the life of a fallen loved one who gave their life in service for this country. But in addition, remember God who fights our battles. The one who gives us victory over sin when we are surrounded by impending death. A God who saves us at the trumpet sound with the sacrifice of his Son — the spotless lamb of God.
ASK THIS: Who are you reflecting on today? And what has God done for you that you need to remember? (Share this in the comments below).
DO THIS: Take time for silence and prayer.
PRAY THIS: God, thank you for saving me from my sin and death. And for fighting my battles.
PLAY THIS: Surrounded.
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