This Arkansas barn is located in Pike County not far from the New Ebenezer Cemetery, the place where many of my anscestors’ bodies were laid to rest. It is such a tranquil area. I always wondered what an “Ebenezer” was.
Featured in Glorious Spring & Fabulous Fall June 2010
Featured in Barns, Old Grist Mills, & Covered Bridges From Around the World June 2010
Canon EOS 30D; 18-55 mm zoom (kit lens) with a focal point of 37mm. Taken in early fall.
We sing about it in the old hymn, Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing in verse 2:
“Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.”
So many times I have sung these words and I haven’t a clue what “Ebenezer” means. The term is found in scripture in the book of Samuel.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and named it Ebenezer; for he said, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel; the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. The towns that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites. (1 Samuel 7:12-14 NRSV)
The word “Ebenezer” comes from Hebrew and is actually two words pronounced together: “Even Haazer”. Literally speaking, an Ebenezer is a “stone of help,” or a reminder of God’s Real, Holy Presence and Divine aid. Spiritually and theologically speaking, an Ebenezer can be nearly anything that reminds us of God’s presence and help: the Bible, the Sacramental Elements, a cross, a picture, a fellow believer, a hymn – those things which serve as reminders of God’s love, God’s Real Presence, and God’s assistance are “Ebenezers.”
In 1 Samuel 4:1-11 and 5:1, the Ebenezer is strangely identified with a particular site, about four miles south of Gilgal, where the Israelites were twice defeated by the Philistines and the Ark of the Covenant was stolen. These battles took place, however, before the site was actually named Ebenezer. It was like someone saying that Dinosaurs once lived in Dallas county — they did, but not when this area was called “Dallas.” Likewise, the two battles mentioned in 1 Samuel 4 and 5 took place at Ebenezer, but some time before it was so-named.
The site wasn’t named Ebenezer until after the Israelites finally defeated the Philistines, and took back the Ark of the Covenant. To commemorate the victorious battle, Samuel set up a marker-stone, named it “Stone of Help,” and thereby the site became identified with the stone and with the place where God’s miraculous help aided them in their victory over the Philistines. The stone, standing up-right, was called “Ebenezer,” and the site naturally took on that name as well.