An Ezer Suitable for Him
by Kristi Meyer
The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky, and all the wild animals.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. (Genesis 2:18-20)
There’s something about helping people that brings joy. Seeing what a person needs (sometimes even before they ask) and taking care of that need in a quiet and unobtrusive way, without any desire for repayment or even recognition, brings feelings of contentment and satisfaction. When assisting another person—whether via a grand gesture or through a seemingly small act, whether that assistance is given to a close friend or a random stranger on the street—we often delight and find fulfillment in giving aid.
But when we read that Eve was created to be a helper for Adam, when that “helper” role is applied to women in general, many of us bristle. Our sinful nature tends to view our helper role as demeaning and of lesser status—as a role that reduces our worth and makes us less important than men. A study of the use of the Hebrew word for “helper” (ezer, pronounced ay-zer) in the Old Testament, however, is extremely enlightening when it comes to understanding just what the role of “helper” entails.
A study of the use of the Hebrew word for “helper” (ezer, pronounced ay-zer) in the Old Testament, however, is extremely enlightening when it comes to understanding just what the role of “helper” entails.
Of the more than 20 uses of ezer in the Old Testament, by far the most common use is in reference to God—either God acting as an ezer or God providing ezer to his people. Deuteronomy 33:26-29 shows us that this is no flawed earthly help; it is the perfect help of the almighty God, help that was an incredible blessing to the children of Israel, help that set the Israelites apart and made them more powerful than their enemies.
This theme continues in the Psalms, where the psalmists—particularly King David—recognize and acknowledge that Israel’s past success was entirely due to the Lord’s help, and their future success depends entirely on his continued help. There is no worry that the Lord might not be able to act as an ezer; there is only confidence that the Lord will indeed answer his people when they are in distress. No matter what forces and weapons their enemies muster against them, Israel can put their trust in the Lord, their ezer and their shield. Yes, David is a mighty warrior, but he still needs the ezer that the Lord provides. This ezer is solely due to the Lord’s love and mercy, and it is bestowed on those who are totally and completely undeserving of it.
The role of ezer, therefore, does not imply inferiority. God is clearly in no way inferior to his fallen race, to those to whom he offers ezer. Neither was Eve inferior to Adam, nor are women inferior to men. In God’s eyes, we are all equal in our sinfulness and our need for a Savior; we are all God’s dearly-loved, blood-bought children—children who were created perfectly in his image and who long to have that image perfectly restored one day.
The role of ezer, therefore, does not imply inferiority. God is clearly in no way inferior to his fallen race, to those to whom he offers ezer. Neither was Eve inferior to Adam, nor are women inferior to men.
So then, being an ezer is a high and honored calling, a calling that God himself most often fulfills throughout the Old Testament, a calling that God uses to bless his people even though we are most unworthy of it. Being an ezer was a respected calling for Eve, a calling that enabled her to do for Adam what he could not do on his own, a calling that allowed the two of them to complete each other. And similarly, being an ezer should be a calling in which women today find joy.
Great, I’m glad we’ve got that cleared up. Women today shouldn’t feel any consternation with or have any reservations about their helper role, right? Yeah … no. It’s definitely not that easy for me. My struggle with my helper role likely isn’t going to be settled on this side of heaven, and I suspect many of you are in the same boat. How then can we come to peace with this “helper” role and joyfully live it out in our everyday lives? Stay tuned …
For Further Reflection
Meditate on or write about the connotations you associate with the biblical word “helper.” How do these connotations change when you consider that God is the one most often acting as a helper?
Lord God, you are our ezer and our shield; we wait for you in hope. What a marvel that you call us to the same role that you yourself perform! Instill in us a sense of satisfaction and contentment as we seek to faithfully live out our helper role, and grant that we might always find joy and fulfillment in the calling you have so lovingly given to us. Amen.