God's Past Mercies the Encouragement to Future Trust
1 Samuel 7:12
Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying…

In forming our opinion of certain actions, and in pronouncing them to be either good or bad, useful or injurious, their character must be ascertained from the principle on which they are wrought A splendid deed, which mankind would applaud, may, in the sight of God, be almost as strong an indication of a corrupt heart, as a foul transaction, which all would unite in condemning. The fact is, man regards the outward appearance only, the Lord looks on the heart. A simple stone set up in the name of the Lord. may as effectually denote the overflowings of gratitude, as a costly magnificent temple, dedicated with all the pomp and solemnity of modern architecture. Such was the case in the instance recorded in the text. The prophet Samuel, though dead. still speaks to us; he seems to afford a practical illustration of Solomon's admonition, "In all thy ways acknowledge God, and He shall direct thy path." This is the duty inculcated, which we would earnestly desire to see transcribed in your lives If, then, we add our wonderful preservation from seen and unseen dangers; the way in which the Lord hath helped us over our mountains of difficulty, or out of the depths of tribulation, smoothing our path when it was rugged to our step, or straightening it when it was crooked; if we have experienced that a blessing hath rested on the operation of our hands, or on the meditation of our hearts; if, in the domestic relations of life, we have been favoured with any special tokens of God's superintending providence and fostering protection (and who has not had them?), what gratitude ought to be ours; what abundant occasion have we to adopt — what demons of darkness should we be if we did not adopt — the sentiment of Samuel, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." But this may be a mere empty expression of the lips, or, at least, a mere transitory ebullition of feeling, evaporating with the event which has called forth the sentiment. We would wish that the impression should be permanent, such as would only terminate with our lives; we would wish to see erected some standing memorial of the loving kindness of the Lord, which should declare his goodness, and bespeak our gratitude. How is this to be effected in the present day, since such a rude memorial of Divine mercy would be inconsistent with the notions of modern refinement? It may be accomplished in two ways. Those who have omitted to do so, may lay the foundation stone of a domestic altar, and rear a structure in their houses, on which may be placed the morning and evening sacrifice of prayer and praise. But the conduct of Samuel may be imitated in another point of view, by the reception of Christ Jesus in our hearts; thus to erect a spiritual edifies in our souls, and to make our bodies the temple of the Holy Ghost. Christ is indeed that living stone, which we would see the tenant of every bosom testifying in a lively way of providential and redeeming mercies: a "stone disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious;" a "tried stone," a "sure foundation;" but to "some a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence:" a stone, which the builders, in their impiety and folly, rejected, which is now become the head of the corner; yes, it is indeed this Rock of Ages, which we desire to see set up in all our hearts, at all times, and upon all occasions, as the stable basis on which to erect; a structure of temporal or eternal blessedness; as the sure refuge and hiding place from the storm of adversity, or the gale of prosperity. Here, then, we have the line of conduct we earnestly recommend for your adoption, strongly enforced by the patriarch of old: receive Him into your hearts, whom we preach unto you as the author and finisher of your salvation. Let the idol altar be thrown down, and the name of Jesus Christ be inscribed thereon; may that natural, dead, indurated heart yield its place to the living stone, which will impart new life and vigour to all its energies and emotions, and gratefully record the achievements of Divine grace to the glory of God the Father.

(H. S. Plumptre, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.

WEB: Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, "Yahweh helped us until now."

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