The Lord Has Helped Us
1 Samuel 7:8-9, 12 (NIV)
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.” 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
12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the has helped us.”
Samuel gave instructions to the Israelites. He said to get 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. The Israelites did just that. They got rid of their foreign gods and committed themselves to the Lord. While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Lord intervened and enabled the Israelites to defeat the Philistines.
Samuel setup this stone as a remembrance of how the Lord has helped the Israelites. The victory came about only because the nation confessed their sins, got rid of their foreign gods and committed themselves back to the Lord. The return to the Lord was completed with Samuel offering an acceptable sacrifice of the lamb with intercession as he cried out to God on Israel’s behalf. When Samuel called the stone Ebenezer, he was acknowledging that God’s help is always continuous. He speaks of the need for continued assistance as Samuel is smart enough to know that the people are fickle and will one day go back to their foreign gods again. “Ebenezer” is defined as a memorial of assistance in the past and a sign of hope for future assistance.
If I am in difficult circumstances, I usually just cry out to God for help. The Lord listened to Samuel after the sacrifice and after the confession and recommitment to Him. I would conclude that it also takes a change in my heart before God would answer some of my prayers.