Thunder, Violence and Stones of Help

…but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Beth–car. (1 Samuel 7:10b-11)

If God thundered and shook up the United States of America some of her neighbours and people that she had oppressed might be heard saying “It’s a natural phenomenon”.  It would be quite another thing for the US’ neighbours to move in on the US with violent intent.

God does shake people up with earthquakes, cyclones, fires and poor leadership but thankfully our neighbours are not our enemies. So there is no chance of us pursuing and smiting our neighbours.

We are at risk of treating our neighbours as inferior specimens all the while putting ourselves, our own clan, family, village, city and nation as the epitome of goodness and excellence.

Let us make sure that our Ebenezers – our celebrations of God’s help –  are free from sinful intent, free from pride and prejudice, not coloured by our achievement, and are genuine expressions of gratitude. No ifs, no buts.

Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben–ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us. (1 Samuel 7:12)