How to “Raise an Ebenezer”

When we hear “Ebenezer,” the first thing that pops into our heads might be Ebenezer Scrooge, especially around Christmas. The main character in the 1843 novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge is one of the wealthiest men in town, but also one of the cheapest. According to an article in Forbes, today, the old miser’s net worth would be in the ballpark of $10.3 billion, and when the novel begins, Ebenezer is determined not to share a farthing!

Or, perhaps, hearing “Ebenezer” leads your mind to the lyrics from the old hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” The second verse offers those familiar words: “Here I raise my Ebenezer; Hither by Thy help I’m come…” In this instance, Ebenezer recalls the importance of remembering the Lord’s help.

The name Ebenezer comes from two Hebrew words: eben, or “stone,” and ezer, meaning “help.” So, the Hebrew name is literally “stone of help” and pictures the Lord’s power to give the Hebrew nation victories. In Old Testament times, victories in battle and other significant events were memorialized with markers, often made of stone. We continue this practice today by placing flags at battle sites or erecting monuments in places of remembrance.

In one instance, the judge and prophet Samuel set up a commemorative marker, a stone, and called it Ebenezer, saying, “Hitherto hath the LORD helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12b). The name builds on the frequent Old Testament imagery depicting God as a rock, suggesting His strength, steadfastness, defense, and resolution. In Samuel’s case, the marker gave worship and honor to the Lord who gave them victory over their enemies. And the “battle” in 1 Samuel 7 really wasn’t much of a fight, because the LORD thundered with a mighty sound, the Philistines ran, and Israel gave chase.

We find many such markers, with many different names, throughout the Old Testament. However, all were meant for the same action: giving praise and tribute to the Lord and remembering God’s presence and faithfulness to the children of Israel.

But what does Ebenezer have to do with finances?

Today, the battles won in our daily lives still need to be commemorated. The Lord brings us through our struggles by His grace and might. Many of these battles take place in the financial arena. One of the things my wife and I have tried to stress to friends and family is to celebrate financial victories and place a “marker” to remember God’s provision. Perhaps we seek the Lord’s help in paying off debt, covering a large and unexpected expense, or any number of other financial challenges. When God provides, we say, “Praise the Lord,” but then move on with our lives, quickly forgetting what He has done. We need to “raise Ebenezers” and keep these waypoints before us constantly to help us stay on track in the future. Ebenezers offer praise and tribute to the Lord and provide memory markers for us. Having Ebenezers in our lives helps us in two ways.

  • First, an Ebenezer allows us to remember the Lord’s provision. When we are delivered from a trying time or situation, it is human nature to focus on and remember the negative more than the positive. If we struggled to pay bills when we were younger, we are more likely to feel that struggle long after our financial situation has progressed to the place of not needing to worry. Positive reminders before us helps refocus from the negative struggle to the positive reminder of God’s sufficiency.
  • Second, remembering God’s provision reduces stress in our lives. Sometimes, it is hard to have faith in someone we just met or trust what they say, but as we spend more time with them, we develop faith in their words and actions. In our walk with God, remembrance markers help us count our blessings—a quick reference guide to the faithfulness of God.

Ebenezers can be decorations at home, sticky notes on the computer and mirrors—anything to create a permanent reminder. Building memories with positive capstones will help us trust God in difficult times rather than being paralyzed by fear and negativity.

So, raise your Ebenezer, and return to it often!

This article was previously posted in the April/May 2023 edition of ONE Magazine.