One of my favorite old hymns is Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. It has gone through many iterations since it was written in 1757 but is still sung in churches all around the world today. Despite the different musical and lyrical changes over the years, one particular line in the hymn has largely remained unchanged.
“Here I raise my Ebenezer; Here by Thy great help I’ve come…”

But what is an Ebenezer? As a kid the only Ebenezer I knew of was Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. I was pretty certain that wasn’t what Come Thou Fount was referencing but as with a lot of songs that are sung in church, I didn’t know the context or in this case the meaning of the word Ebenezer.

So what is an Ebenezer and what’s the significance in raising it?

Biblical Contextstone tower
The word Ebenezer is actually found in 1 Samuel 7:12 and is translated from the Hebrew אֶבֶן הָעֵזֶר (eben hāʻēzer) which means “stone of help”. The Israelites had already been defeated by the Philistines and 1 Samuel 7 records how they were about to attack the Israelites again. Samuel’s response was to cry out and offer a sacrifice to God and this time the Lord intervenes and the Philistines are defeated. Samuel then took a stone and set it up and called it’s name Ebenezer, again meaning ‘stone of help’.

So, the next time you sing about ‘raising an Ebenezer’ be reminded that the One you are worshiping is where you find hope and he is faithful now just as he was then!

Also, don’t be afraid to ask your worship leader or Pastor about the meaning and context of the songs you sing in worship.

 

Are there any other songs that you’ve sung in worship that you’ve always wondered about the meaning or context of? Feel free to share in the comments section below.