Ichabod or Ebenezer?

by Sep 6, 2022Devotional

Have You Declared ‘Ichabod’?

(Abigail Hamilton)
“And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.”
‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭4:21-22
     These were dark times. The constant threat of the Philistines. The hypocritical sons of the priest. God rarely was speaking to anybody or giving visions. In fact, I am sure to many in Israel, He felt very distant. The Israelites had turned to serve other gods such as Baalim and Ashtaroth.
In the midst of these dark times, there was a woman who prayed fervently. There was a miracle child dedicated to God who served in the temple. There was a voice calling out in the night. There was a boy who answered God’s call.
     It still amazes me that in the midst of the Philistines sweeping down, slaughtering the Israelites, atrocities committed by corrupt people like Hophni and Phinehas, and the majority serving false idols, Samuel got a hold of the living God.
     However, as we all know, the story has a dark turn as Samuel warns the priest Eli that God will judge him because he did not follow God’s admonition concerning his sons.
     I Samuel 4 tells us the events of how after much defeat, the Israelites decided to take the ark of the covenant into battle in hopes to finally conquer their enemies.
Nevertheless, their irreverent, rash act—treating God like some rabbit’s foot—ends up not quite like they were expecting.
     The ark is captured, the Israelites sorely loose the battle, and among the casualties were Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas.
     Upon hearing this news, not only does Eli suddenly die (whether of a heart attack or some other cause), but Phinehas’ pregnant wife immediately goes into labor. During delivery, this woman’s dying words were, “Name the child ‘Ichabod’ for the glory has departed Israel.”
     In other words, “Name this baby Ichabod for God has abandoned us, and we are now hopeless and helpless.”
     The ark stayed in captivity for seven months with the Philistines. And when it was given back to the Israelites, their joy was soon turned to sorrow for over 50,000 men died because of their disobedience and frivolity concerning the ark.
     God wanted the children of Israel to know that He was not some inanimate object that could be controlled and toted around. His power was not something to be taken light of.
     Silent years. Year after year, nothing from God. The ark was not in the temple. Israel’s infamous enemies only seemed to gain more ground, and God seemed to have turned His back forever against them.
     Finally, after 20 years passed, the prophet Samuel cries out to the Israelites, “Listen to me! If you will stop serving your idols and repent of your sins, and cry out to God, deciding to serve Him only, He will hear you and bring victory once again.”
     And that’s exactly what the Israelites did.
     Everyone gathered together at Mizpeh. The ark of the covenant was brought. And sacrifices were made.
     When the Philistines heard all of Israel was at Mizpeh, they rallied together and decided they would wipe them out once and for all. But true to His promise, God stepped in, confused the enemy, and the Philistines retreated with Israel hot on their heels.
     Samuel then set up a stone where the victory was won and named the place Ebenezer—for “hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”
     He is our help. He is our hope.
     Many different times in my life when I was living by faith and not by sight—or even feeling—I struggled to keep my head up. Through the valleys, darkness, and silence from Heaven. During the times I felt I had prayed through about certain people getting saved and was holding to promises God had given me, but only seeing the situation get worse and worse.
     Without realizing it, above my heart’s door, I wrote “Ichabod.”
     Now if you would have asked me if I was doubting God or giving in to disbelief, I don’t think I would have admitted it at the time. But in all honesty, I couldn’t see a way for the Lord to break through, for He seemed a million miles away.
     However, when reading through this story again, I caught a glimpse of what the Lord wanted my reaction to be all those times I had thrown up my hands, bowed my head, and cried, “Ichabod.”
     Samuel told the children of Israel to “put away the strange gods” and to “prepare your hearts to serve God only.”
     True, if you are walking in disobedience and sin, you must repent and turn your back on those ways.
     But, there are some strange gods that many of us want to cling on to that wouldn’t necessarily get labeled as bad. Nevertheless, if we are going to serve God only, we’ll have to let go of the strange gods of doubt, fear, hopelessness, disappointment, and discouragement.
     The enemy will shout, “Ichabod!” The circumstances might shout, “Ichabod!” Your thoughts might shout, “Ichabod!” Your friends and family might even tell you, “Ichabod!”
     But my friend, it’s during these times, my precious Jesus wants you to look up. It’s during these times He wants you to start setting up stones. It’s during these times He wants you to shout back, “Ebenezer!”
     “My Lord has always helped! My Lord will always help! And my God is helping right now!”
God wants you today to lift up the hands which hang down and the straitened those feeble knees. He wants you to trust Him. He’s asking you to believe Him. Has He ever failed you? Well, He’s not about to start.
     Ebenezer. God is my help. God is my hope.
Here I raise mine Ebenezer
Hither by Thy help I’m come
And I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let Thy grace now like a fetter
Bind my yielded heart to Thee
Let me know Thee in Thy fullness
Guide me by Thy mighty hand
Till transformed in Thine own image
In Thy presence I shall stand
-Robert Robinson


  1. Stephanie


  2. Sharen Young

    Beautiful written.
    Such great admonition..
    Jesus never fails!

    • Elizabeth Hamilton

      Thank you for your comment!

  3. Leona

    Thank you.