1 Samuel 7:12
Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying…
There is a distinct recognition, here, of the hand of God in providence; and there is a marking of the event of God's interference in their behalf by some visible outward sign which would serve to bring it back to them. For no man, after the battle and the victory, returning that way, and beholding this stone, would forget it. They would cherish it in their memory, and tell their children of it. And if their occasions or needs ever took any of them again through the region of their old captivity, their old fear, the old battle and the old victory, that outside memorial would stand to remind them, not merely of each external event but also of the interior moral truth that it was of the Lord's mercies that they were preserved, and that it was of God's interposing providence that they were victorious. Now, we are in many respects like the Israelites. There are, in the history of every man, certain remarkable events that are worthy to be remembered. The gracious and providential interference of God in our behalf deserves to be noted. The memory of all His mercies ought to be perpetuated. Every critical period, as the turning of the year; every point of success in any enterprise of life; every point where we gain a higher joy, whether it be secular, or social, or spiritual; every new relation which promises great; blessedness to us; every business achievement which seems to lift us out of darkness and out of difficulties; every great mischief that impended as a threatening sky, but; that is rolled away — every such event or experience ought to have a distinct recognition. We should think of them in their individuality, and in their sequences; and it would be well for us if we could set up some memorial, and be able to say to one and another, "Hitherto the Lord hath helped me." It is the Lord — not my skill, not my wisdom, not my prowess — that hath helped me hitherto. "Our true" life is the inward life. It deserves, therefore, to be specially watched and recorded. No other thing deserves such celebrations as a man's inward victory — his inward deliverance. A blessing that comes from God should be recognised by us, though it comes in no visible form. No one who has a constant succession of good fortune, keeps any ideal in his mind of the number of Divine mercies of which he is the recipient. If God were to recount what He has done for us, it would seem as though our life were a golden chain, in which one golden link clasped another, every hour being a link, and every day lengthening the chain. I sometimes think, of a night, that it is a sin to go into the house and leave God's glory flashing abroad in the Northern Lights, or in the stellar exhibitions in all the broad expanse above, without a witness — certainly without my witnessing them. I feel as though it were a stupidity to retire to sleep with all this amazing display going on. For, what are men's inventions and ingenuities compared with those astonishing developments which every summer's day shows us in the clouds, in the storms, and in frescoes of light and beauty? Every single day there is enough in the silence of nature, and in the might of nature, enough to fill the soul with joy and gratitude. But, while day tells it to day, and night repeats it to night, man sees but little of it. There may he kept a calendar of dates. It is astonishing how much one can preserve in this way with very little trouble. When travelling in Europe, I was so full of excitement end enjoyment that I had not time to keep a journal; so I just put down under each date one single word — the name of the city; or the name of the picture; or the name of the mountain; or the name of the pass; or the name of some person whom I had met; and now I can go back ever a month's travels, and, though there are but these single words, that whole history starts up when I look at them. If you regularly take a memorandum book, at night, and think back through the day, and bring up before you what God has done for you, what He has shown you, what significant thing has happened, and put down the caption of it under the proper date, you will be surprised to find what a calendar your book will become at the end of every year. In some of the German houses there is a charming habit of this sort. Instead of papering their rooms, or frescoing them in the ordinary way, they employ the ablest artists of their times to paint their walls with the most exquisite landscapes, which are to stand there for ages. And in these landscapes are representations of their own family here and there. Here, for instance, are the grandparents; there are the children; and here are the friends and neighbours. And so, one has in his house, a kind of memorial of his social relationships, and of everything significant in his family history. It is a most charming idea if it, be executed fitly. But I would not recommend to you any such custom as this, which is very expensive, and unfitted to our habits and manners And yet, it is quite possible for one to have objects on his wall, which shall answer very much the same purpose: A leaf here, an anchor there, or a little flower, plucked, dried, and hung in its proper place, may mark some significant passage in one's history This may be seen in castles. The man of the castle says, "Do you see those antlers? Do you see that frontal? I will give you a history of that hunting expedition." They are memorials which he has preserved of various experiences in hunting. Why should not every dawning mercy have a star blazing from the wall, and saying to every one that looks upon it, "Hitherto the Lord hath helped me?" Why should our houses be so barren of our own history? Why should we leave our eyes so entirely without the aid of interpreting symbols? I know not why a person's house should not become a kind of memorial of personal history. Or, a journal might be made of the Bible. If you keep a kind of register, so that the text refers to and is associated with the event, your Bible becomes a memorial. You are setting up all the way through it stones of remembrance, as it were. You are providing a record for your old age. And by and by, when you take down your Bible, and put on your glasses, and look back upon your past life, not only will it be the word of God, but you will find bow the word of God fed you in the wilderness, strengthened you in sickness, and comforted you in circumstances of discouragement. How many things a man can record on the fly leaves of his Bible which will afford him pleasure and profit in after life! And how precious that Bible will become to him when he has woven it into his experience as a kind of epitomising of his life. Or, one might, if blessed with means, take the occasions of God's hopefulness to him, and make them also occasions of charity. There are what are called "memorial windows" in churches Such windows are put in often, by affection, to be the memorial of a wife, or sister, or parent, or child, or friend. In the old country there are a great many of them. One of the most affecting things I ever saw in my life was in the church of the "Succouring" Virgin — that is, of Mary, the Succourer. It was, I believe, in one of the French cities. The whole church was filled with tablets. Here was one of an officer, for three days' deliverance, on such, and such. and such dates. It was a little marble slab let into the wall, inscribed with letters of gold. On inquiring and comparing dates, I found it was during the battle of Inkerman, at a time when the French army were in great danger. The man had been preserved; and when he came back, he put up in this church this tablet, recalling the mercy of God in sparing his life. Another inscription was, "My babe was sick; I called to the Virgin; she heard me; and my child lives." There was the tablet that celebrated that event. And I could not read these inscriptions without having tears fall from my eyes like drops from a spice bush when shaken in a dewy morning, blow, everybody ought to have a church somewhere for himself — not a literal church; but someplace where he can celebrate God's special goodness to him.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.