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Daily Devotional | Return to the Lord

Daily Devotional | Return to the Lord


The hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” written by Robert Robinson, celebrates God’s protection and grace. But did you ever wonder about this puzzling phrase: “Here I raise my Ebenezer. . . .”? The line refers to the name of a monument made of stones that was set up by Samuel after the Lord defeated Philistines. Samuel wanted to remember what the Lord had done on their behalf. The name, Ebenezer, meant “stone of help.”

The events in today’s text took place twenty years after the ark returned to Israel. The decades that followed the ark’s relocation to Kiriath Jearim were marked by spiritual revival. Israel “turned back to the Lord” by destroying images of the Canaanite fertility goddess Ashtoreth and her male counterpart Baal (vv. 2–4). God’s people sealed this commitment with a solemn assembly where they confessed their sin and poured water out before the Lord. This was a symbolic gesture of devotion. They may also have denied themselves water for a time to show their sincerity.

During this ceremony, the Philistines attacked, viewing the gathering as either an opportunity or a threat. The terrified Israelites asked Samuel to intercede with God, and he did so by sacrificing a lamb as a “whole burnt offering” (v. 9). The Philistines chose this moment to attack, perhaps thinking that Israelites would be most vulnerable while worshiping. Notice that God’s answer to Samuel’s prayer was immediate. As the enemy attacked, God responded with “loud thunder” that sent the Philistines into a panicked retreat (v. 10). Samuel commemorated the victory by setting up a stone to remind them that God was the source of their victory.

>> Do you have a reminder of what God has done for you? It does not have to be elaborate. Think of a way you can pay tribute to God’s work in your life. It can be as simple as a verse from Scripture posted where you can see it.

Pray with Us

Prayerfully consider the lessons in today’s dramatic account of the Israelites’ victory over the Philistines. God is always in control and His will always prevails! Thank Him for His victories in your life.

BY Dr. John Koessler

John Koessler is Professor Emeritus of Applied Theology and Church Ministries at Moody Bible Institute. John authors the “Practical Theology” column for Today in the Word of which he is also a contributing writer and theological editor. An award-winning author, John’s newest title is When God is Silent: Let the Bible Teach You to Pray (Kirkdale). Prior to joining the Moody faculty, he served as a pastor of Valley Chapel in Green Valley, Illinois, for nine years. He and his wife, Jane, now enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan.

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