Posted by: Ety W. | July 22, 2008

Help Meet

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Genesis chapter 2 describes the first woman as a “Help Meet.” At least that’s the term used in the King James Version. The New American Standard uses “Helper Suitable.” Other translations uses the term “suitable helper,” (NIV); helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary), (Amplified Bible); “helper fit”, (ESV); “helper — as his counterpart” (Young’s Literal Translation); “right kind of partner,” (CEV). When we looked up the Hebrew in Genesis 2 – Filling in The Details, we saw that “help” meant to aid, and “meet” meant counterpart, corresponding to, or parallel to.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him. Gen. 2:18

The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. Gen. 2:20

We see that the Lord was addressing the man’s aloneness. Hence we focused first on companionship. But by using the term “helper suitable,” we see that Eve’s function was much broader than just keeping him company. Adam needed help. He could not fulfill God’s plan by himself.

Even though this passage never uses the term “companion,” it is still a vital concept to understand. Why? Because I think it helps offset the idea that being a helper means being merely some sort of assistant. If we cannot help voluntarily, if we must be compelled like an employee who helps for money, or coerced like a slave, then companionship does not exist and we are alone in our position.

So what happens? On the one hand, men are tempted to spiritual pride by believing they have a God-given superiority, having been created “first.” Women on the other hand are tempted to rebellion, by believing the lie which says that equality is based on function (what we do) and ownership (what we have).

Indeed, much of the struggle for women’s equality is based on being able to function in society as men do; to have the same kinds of jobs and careers, to climb the same career ladders, to be treated in the same manner. On one level, this seems very logical. However, I have made an interesting observation within my own lifetime. I have observed my grandmother’s generation, who felt fulfilled in their domestic role; my mother’s generation, who were dissatisfied with it; my generation, who fought long and hard for the right to abandon it; and my daughter’s generation, who have proudly opted to be SAHMs (Stay at Home Moms.) My point here is that women have confused the sin nature’s basic dissatisfaction with life, with their sense of personal fulfillment.

The other area in which we judge our sense of equality is in what we have; our possessions. Indeed, we train our children to be this way. I recall a time when my children were small. I was reading at a parents’ magazine about children’s birthday parties. The advice given was that to make things fair, the host should make sure that everyone got a present. This struck me as rather sad because it was setting up a precedent of expectation in these children; that their equality was based on having the same thing as everyone else. I preferred to view birthday parties differently, that it was the birthday boy or girl’s turn to get presents. “It’s So-&-So’s birthday so it’s their turn to get presents. When it’s your birthday it will be your turn.” My children accepted this happily.

If we believe that our equality is based upon doing the same tasks, or having the same possessions as others, we will spend all our lives in frustration. Not only because we cannot ultimately achieve this kind of fairness, but because we were never created to find our fulfillment in these things.

What has all this got to do with being a help meet? I think because the term, “helper” connotes something other than the intended meaning. Yet besides trying to clarify the definition, there is a biblical example we can look to as well. Paul uses the same image of one body in describing the church in 1 Cor 12:12-27. Apparently the Corinthians were quibbling over who was more important.

For the body is not one member, but many …. if the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? …. it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor … that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another…. 1 Cor 12: 14, 17, 22, 23, 25

How appropriate that God should use marriage as a picture of the church! What is the solution to divisions? 1 Corinthians chapter 13. Christian love is the key to unity.

I will leave you for now with that.  It is a passage of Scripture which I come back to again and again.   It is appropriate for so many instances, not least of all our marriages.


  1. Good Morning Ety!

    Really poignant and thought provoking – great point about finding our worth in what we do or what we have. We’ve struggled so long demanding “what we deserve” that many times we have ignored the beauty of what make us different and bee sorely disappointed when we do finally get “what we deserve!”

    Whenever I broach the subject of being a “helper” with women’s groups, I try to do it delicately and with humor. I approach it from “How many of your husbands need some serious help?” I don’t get many disagreements with that. Then we go through needing help – “If you needed help with something, say an algebra proble, would you need someone SMARTER than you or DUMBER than you…?” We leave that question open ended… who am I to say? 🙂

    Anyway – we should count it a privilege to be placed along side someone to make up for their weaknesses, and be grateful that they are beside us to make up for ours.

    That’s all for now!

    I’m a Believer!

  2. Laura, what an excellent approach this subject! Our reactions always seem to boil down to perspective. But when we see things with a biblical perspective, the truth truly sets us free. Thanks so much for sharing that.

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