Under the Arm and Near the Heart: A Portrait of Eve, Part 1
“So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.”
“Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being… The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
(Genesis 2:7, 18).
Enter femininity. Enter womanhood. Woman was created shortly after Man. And Eve was glorious! She was captivating! She was breathtakingly beautiful! She was the perfect counterpart to Adam. Eve was created because something was not good, something was missing. She has special significance and purpose.
When Woman enters the picture, relationship blossoms. Love takes flight. Not to say relationships didn’t exist prior her grand entry – the relationship between the members of the Trinity and the “unbroken friendship, untouched by sin” between God and Adam (from Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John and Stacie Eldredge), but human relationships began because of Eve. She is a symbol of beauty, of all things relational, of life. She is even called Eve, the mother of all living by Adam in Genesis 3:20. Adam and Eve’s relationship is a reflection of the relationship with God and His Bride, the Church, but Eve alone is a picture of God’s deep longing to be in relationship with us.
“The vast desire and capacity a woman has for intimate relationships tells us of God’s vast desire and capacity for intimate relationships…the whole…Bible is a love story between God and His people…What a comfort to know that this universe we live in is relational at its core, that our God is a tenderhearted God who yearns for relationship with us. If you have any doubt about that, simply look at the message He sent us in Woman. Amazing. Not only does God long for us, but He longs to be loved by us.” (Eldredge)
Eve was created to be a helper suitable to Adam, a helpmeet if you will. She was worthy to be his partner. It is a funny term. It sounds like Eve was designed to help Adam through life, and to meet his unique needs. Please understand that Christian single women also have their purpose in God’s glorious creation, but woman was uniquely designed to be in relationship, and was created for a special intimate relationship with one man.
The term helpmeet doesn’t really do Eve or women justice in the English language. It comes from the Hebrew term “ezer kenegdo.” According to BibleGateway.com’s Dictionary, the term is defined as, “a help as his counterpart.”
Let’s break it down.
The term ezer is actually taken from an ancient Hebrew word “azar.”According to Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon, `azar aw-zar means “to surround, i.e. protect or aid:–help, succour.”
I found a definition for succor at the Free Dictionary: “To give assistance to in time of want, difficulty, or distress” taken from the Latin root word succurrere meaning “to run to the aid to.”
The word ezer appears 21 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, typically in reference to “believers who were in grave danger! They needed a special kind of help. They needed to be surrounded with protection. They needed the One who gives assistance in a time of great danger. They needed an ezer.” (Hem of His Garment)
“Biblical scholar David Freedman offers the Hebrew word (ezer) from two roots: to rescue-to save and to be strong.” (Hem of His Garment)
Woman was uniquely designed because of a serious problem. She was designed to be a help to her husband, to meet his needs, to give comfort in times of difficulty and distress, and to surround him with strength. Something I love doing is surrounding my husband with my arms and giving him a great big hug. Adam sometimes explicitly asks for a hug because he needs to feel my love, and he needs me to help strengthen him. And I am fulfilling my role as an ezer when I do so.
God has designed woman to be a pillar of strength. Proverbs 31 talks about a godly woman – a capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman. In verse 25 it says, “She is clothed with strength and dignity.” We weren’t designed to be wimpy wallflowers, serving under our husbands as their personal slaves. We are women of purpose. We are women of strength.
Proverbs 31 is an intimidating passage to read as a woman. Honestly, half the time I feel as if I can never live up to her and the other half of the time I think she’s impossible to relate to in theory. But she is in the Bible, and all of the Bible is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16), and it is the Holy Word of God. It’s there for a reason, and therefore, I will read and learn from it. Take some time to read the Proverbs 31 passage through open eyes and an open heart. Ask God to use His Word to show you not just about how to be a woman, but how you can be His woman, a redeemed Eve.
Remember we draw our strength from the Lord.
“I lift my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My (ezer) help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121: 1-2
“We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our (ezer) help and our shield.” Psalm 33:20
“It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.” Psalm 18:32
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
“I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
The word kenegdo is a bit more tricky. Biblical scholar David Freedman suggests that kenegdo means “equal, fit, or appropriate.” Think of Woman as the mirror of Man, just as man and woman are the mirror image of God. She is exactly corresponding to Man. She compliments him, perfects him, and fits perfectly to him and his needs. A beautiful picture of this is illustrated in a quote from Reverend Matthew Henry: “The Woman came from a Man’s rib, not from his feet to be walked on, not from his head to be superior, but from the side to be equal. Under the arm to be protected, and next to the heart to be loved.”
God gave woman a position of glory and honor when he designed her as a help-meet, an ezer kenegdo.
Something I find curiously ironic is that my husband’s name Adam means “man” and my name Hannah means “grace from God.” Woman is a beautiful picture of God’s grace to man. Through woman, the Savior, Jesus Christ was born into the world. Through woman, life continues. God gave man a gift when he created a woman, a precious gift with unique attributes and a unique role and purpose.
Often we look at the Ephesians 5 passage with discomfort. Me? Submissive? Me? Under the headship of my husband? Ouch. Sounds difficult and painful and degrading. But read what it says to the husbands
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” (Ephesians 5:25-28)
Ladies, this is a position of honor – to be loved unconditionally and sacrificially, to be made holy, clean, and pure, to be led spiritually because he cares about your salvation and spiritual growth, to be presented as radiant – shining like a star before the Lord, being protected/provided for, to receive as much tenderhearted care as he would give himself. If that’s not honor, I don’t know what is!
Now our husbands won’t be perfect. Our husbands will fail. But doesn’t the mere fact that this is what our husbands are to do for us make you want to honor, respect, love, and serve him?
And remember, regardless if you’re married or single, you have a Heavenly Groom who fights for your honor, who longs to romance you, who loves you unconditionally, and is working on your behalf to cleanse and purify you.
“For Zion’s sake, I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn (until she shimmers), her salvation like a blazing torch. The nations will see your righteousness and all the kings your glory (your beauty); you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hands (the crown of creation), a royal diadem in the hand of God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah and your land Beulah for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married. As a young man marries a maiden (he pursues and romances her) so your sons will marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices over a bride (you are lovely), so will God rejoice over you.” Isaiah 62:1-5 (version from Taken from Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul)
This is a position of honor and glory, ladies. Embrace this promise. Embrace this truth!
Isn’t it wonderful to know we are not alone, that it is God who equips us with strength to love our husbands, to serve our husbands, and to find meaning and purpose in Christ, especially when our husbands fail us? Isn’t it comforting to know that we were created for honor and glory? How does knowing all this help you understand your own unique purpose and design?
View the Introduction to the Portrait of Eve series: What We Were Designed For
(***Note: I took some of my research from the free online Bible study program, The Hem of His Garment. Feel free to check out the website for yourself, but please know I am not in any way endorsing this program or site.***)