This Sunday, we will sing “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” as our opening hymn. The text of this hymn was written by Robert Robinson, an English Dissenter or Separatist, one of many Protestant Christians who separated from the Church of England in the 17th and 18th centuries. An influential Baptist and scholar, he made a lifelong study of the antiquity and history of Christian Baptism. He was briefly converted to Evangelical Methodism upon hearing the Calvinist preacher George Whitefield. It was around this time when he wrote Sunday’s opening hymn!
Come, thou Fount of every blessing;
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above;
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of God's unchanging love!
Here I raise my 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.
Now I’m guessing every time you sing this hymn you’re wondering what an Ebenezer is… you probably write it off as an obscure reference from the Old Testament and hurry along to the Jesus sought me when a stranger part… let’s take a closer look at this obscure reference:
We are familiar with the Old Testament accounts of Israel, God’s chosen people, repeatedly falling away from God. One of the many, many times God came to their rescue (this time they were under attack from the Philistines), the great prophet Samuel set up a stone, a monument to remind Israel for years and generations to come how God had helped them that day. He called the stone Ebenezer. In Hebrew, Ebenezer means “stone of help.”
(eben = stone, ezer = help)
I hope you can think back and recall situations in your own life when God has come to your rescue. It could be a near-miss that was almost a car accident… it could be a healing from an addiction… the restoration of a broken relationship… or it could be the comfort of God’s presence when you needed it most…
O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let that grace now, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart; O take and seal it;
seal it for thy courts above.