“I Will Make Him a Helper Comparable to Him”

In Genesis 2:18 God said, “It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him.” The Hebrew word for “helper” is ezer. It means “help” or “one who helps.” The word occurs twenty-one times in the Old Testament, including twice in Genesis 2, first in verse 18 and then in verse 20 when Adam named the animals and could not find “a helper comparable to him.”

Four Reasons Wives Should Be Encouraged Being Called “Helper”

Some women might find it offensive to be identified as their husbands’ “helpers,” but the title is not a criticism of Eve’s insufficiency. Instead, it is an identification of Adam’s inadequacy! In the Amplified Bible Genesis 2:18 reads: “Now the Lord God said, ‘It is not good [sufficient, satisfactory] that the man should be alone.’” Woman is the helper man needs because he is not sufficient without her! God created woman to remove man’s deficiency. In Holding Hands, Holding Hearts (pp. 26–27) Richard and Sharon Phillips write:

To call a woman a helper is not to emphasize her weakness, but her strength. Not to label her as superfluous but as essential to Adam’s condition and to God’s purpose in the world. Helper is a position of dignity given to the woman by God Himself.

1. Ezer Describes Great Strength and Support

Ezer is never used in Scripture for something negative, such as a sycophant, minion, or slave. Consider these verses:

  • Deuteronomy 33:29—Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help (ezer) and the sword of your majesty!
  • Ezekiel 12:14—I will scatter to every wind all who are around him to help (ezer) him, and all his troops.

Considering this context, identifying woman as her husband’s ezer reveals her as a powerful and influential companion.

 2. God Is Called Helper (Ezer)

Eleven of the nineteen times ezer is used outside Genesis 2 occur in Psalms. Each time it describes God as our helper. Some examples include:

  • Psalm 33:20—Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help (ezer) and our shield.
  • Psalm 70:5—Make haste to me, O God! You are my help (ezer) and my deliverer.
  • Psalm 115:9—O Israel, trust in the Lord; He is their help (ezer) and their shield.

The very title used to describe a woman’s role is a title used to describe God Himself. Since we do not let the identification of God as our helper make us think less of God, we should apply that same thinking to wives as their husbands’ helpers.

 3. The Holy Spirit Is Called Helper

Helper is the title Jesus used for the Holy Spirit when He promised not to abandon the disciples after His departure:

  • “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper.”—John 14:16
  • “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name.”—John 14:26
  • “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.”—John 16:7

It’s a privilege for women to carry the same title given to the Holy Spirit! It is clear that the title of ezer or helper is not one of inferiority but of honor.

 4. Helping Is Very Commendable

Thinking biblically, helping and serving are two of the most admirable actions we can engage in as Christians. Jesus modeled such behavior and called His followers to do the same in Matthew 20:26–28:

Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Few actions are commanded as often in Scripture or look more like Christ than helping and serving. As a result, wives should find it encouraging to be called their husbands’ helpers. They should not let society’s stereotypes influence their thinking about being a wife. Instead, they should joyfully embrace the role God has given them. In the Above Rubies article, “Do You Feel Downgraded?” Nancy Campbell writes:

[Ladies] are you feeling base and discouraged? Don’t listen to these lies any longer. Lift up your head and embrace your mandate from God. You are not working for any earthly employer, but for the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Sovereign God of the universe. When He calls you a helper you can hold your head high.

How Should a Wife Be Her Husband’s Helper?

You’d think if God called wives to be helpers, He’d let them know how to do that! But interestingly, there’s no list in Scripture telling wives how to help their husbands. I suspect this is because every man is unique. Since each husband has different strengths and weaknesses, it’s impossible to absolutely say how a wife should help because men will want—and need—help in different ways. Some men:

  • Love to cook and enjoy taking on that responsibility. For men who struggle just making toast, they’ll find it helpful for their wives to do the cooking.
  • Couldn’t balance a checkbook if their lives depended on it. For those men, it will be helpful if their wives oversee the finances.

For other couples, turning the finances over to the wife would leave accounts overdrawn in a month. The important issue is for wives to learn what their husbands need and then strive to help in those ways.

One unique way my wife, Katie, is a help to me

Much of my ministry revolves around teaching, and Sunday’s sermon receives particular attention. I go over it twice each week with Katie and, as a result, I have improved as a preacher. A weakness I had when I started pastoring was sharing a lot of technical information but little in the way of application. My wife has helped me in this area by regularly asking, “What does this have to do with our lives? How is this going to challenge us in the different roles we find ourselves?”

Katie has also helped me become clearer, letting me know when something is confusing. I might respond, “This is what I was trying to say,” and she will say, “That’s not how it sounded before. What you just said makes sense.” Because of all this, I often say from behind the pulpit, “When I was going over the sermon with Katie . . .” The congregation knows how much my wife helps me, and I often hear people say, “You two make a great team.” And they are right. My preaching has improved significantly because of the time and effort Katie has committed to going over my sermons with me.

While I know most women reading this may not have husbands who preach, the principle is still the same. Wives need to look for the unique areas in which their strengths can complement their husbands’ needs and weaknesses.

Helping requires adapting

Hopefully a wife will be committed to helping her husband even if it isn’t what she enjoys doing. Our children often say they want to help, but when we tell them what to do, they sometimes respond, “This is what I want to do instead.” As a result, they don’t end up being much help. Unfortunately, I’ve seen wives with similar attitudes. /Just as with our children, wives with this attitude end up not being much help to their husbands.

The biblical instruction for wives to submit to their husbands also includes the concept of adapting. This is captured in the Amplified Bible:

  • Ephesians 5:22—Wives, be subject [be submissive and adapt yourselves] to your own husbands as [a service] to the Lord.
  • Colossians 3:18—Wives, be subject to your husbands [subordinate and adapt yourselves to them], as is right and fitting and your proper duty in the Lord.
  • Titus 2:5a—[Wives should] be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured [kindhearted], adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands.
  • 1 Peter 3:1a—In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them].

Helping Is a Two-Way Street

One of the most common complaints I hear from wives is, “My husband doesn’t communicate with me!” Wives are not mind readers, and husbands can be notorious for giving short and sometimes ambiguous answers. Plenty of wives who want to be good helpers cannot because they do not know what their husbands want. Husbands can help their wives tremendously by communicating with them clearly and more frequently. I will say it like this: Husband, help your wife be your helper by communicating to her how she can help you.

Also, just because God graciously gave Adam a wife to complement him and help meet his needs does not mean that a wife should endlessly serve her husband while he doesn’t lift a finger. Scripture identifies wives as helpers, but husbands also help their wives. There may even be times when a husband is called to take over some of his wife’s responsibilities.

Katie has s a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, which means she gets very sick during pregnancies. During those seasons, Katie can barely get out of bed some mornings, much less care for our other children. We homeschool, so they need their work supervised. Our youngest child needs to be watched so he doesn’t fall down the stairs, put something in his mouth that he should not, or find himself crushed by older siblings playing.

By God’s grace, my job has a very flexible schedule. On those days (or weeks) when Katie’s sickness is the worst, I stay home in the morning and work later in the evenings. I also take over a number of Katie’s normal responsibilities. Every time I “play mom,” it reminds me to be thankful for my wife.

Discussion Questions for Husbands and Wives:

  • Can you think of other reasons a wife should be encouraged being identified as her husband’s helper.
  • Husband:
    1. What ways does your wife help you?
    2. Considering your weaknesses, what ways would you like your wife to help you?
    3. What ways can you help your wife and make her load lighter?
    4. What can you do to help your wife resist being influenced by the world’s stereotypes?
  • Wife:
    1. What ways do you help your husband?
    2. How would you like your husband to better communicate with you?
    3. How would you like your husband to help you and make your load lighter?
    4. Are any stereotypes tempting you to think falsely about your role as a wife? What can you do to resist these influences?

Marriage God's Way bundle

This post came from Marriage God’s Way and the accompanying workbook. Both are for sale on my site. You can purchase the book and his and her workbooks for 30% off.

22 thoughts on ““I Will Make Him a Helper Comparable to Him”

  1. It seems to me that you are REALLY focused on wives and how they have to keep the relationship going, they have to keep the husband happy, they have mandates to follow. It seems to me, that as a man, you’d maybe be more interested in helping MEN become better husbands then telling women what to do!! Aren’t men instructed regarding marriage? Why, then aren’t you focusing on that, since in your theology, men are the ‘leader’ of the home? If that is the case, then important instruction should be to them, not the women!!

    1. Hello “LittleBird,”
      Thank you for reading and commenting.

      Since the topic of this post is wives helping their husbands, then yes, that’s what I “focused on.” If the post was about husbands loving their wives, then there would be a greater focus on husbands. For example, here’s a recent post, “3 Ways Husbands Mistreat Their Wives,” and you could easily look at this post and say, “It seems to me that you are REALLY focused on husbands and how they have to…” If you keep checking my blog in the future, you’ll see a number of posts coming up for husbands.

      It’s hard to address husbands and wives in the same post. Have you ever heard, “When you try to reach everyone, you don’t reach anyone”? Still, if you look at the end of the post, even though wives are called their husband’s helper (Genesis 2:18) and 1 Corinthians 11:9 says, “Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man,” I still had instruction for husbands to help their wives. And I gave an example from my own marriage.

      If I’m understanding your main question/criticism though, you seem to be saying since I’m a man I shouldn’t write to women. That’s a tough position to argue since all the instruction in Scripture for women is written by men.

  2. Thanks for sharing this post. I enjoyed reading it and I was really blessed. The post is about,”How can wives help their husbands?” Since the statement is about wives there is no need to focus on men. You have addressed the subject thoroughly in my own opinion. I like the whole idea of couples being helpers to each others area of weaknesses. God bless you Pastor !

  3. I’m so blessed to have a husband who is so patient, understanding, and communicative. I feel like he’s made me a better wife with every year. I do whatever I can to keep our home in order so that he doesn’t need to be concerned with it after work.

    1. Hi Diana,
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      That’s great to hear. I’m glad you have a godly husband, and I’m sure he’s blessed by the efforts you make toward him and your home.

  4. Communicating clearly with each other is so important. Neither husband or wife should assume the others knows what they need or if s/he loves me then s/he would know.

  5. I found this part of your book very inspiring. The role of women as helpers is frequently underestimated by the society and some women alike. But revealing that the Holy Spirit and God is also referred to as our helper throws a completely new light on that role. I think women can be proud of their role in the institution of marriage. Thanks.

  6. This has been on my heart lately. I love how you compare female helpers to the Holy Spirit as a helper. Our husbands do need help–we all do! When we help our husbands, we are really helping ourselves.

    1. Hi Tara,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. Regarding wives helping themselves while helping their husbands, Paul says something similar in Ephesians 5 that when husbands are loving their wives, they’re really loving themselves.

  7. This is a major point in Emerson Eggerich’s Love and Respect The idea that men love their women, while women respect their men – that our different brains will respond to those forms of love in each other as complimentary. He points out that God made Eve to compliment Adam – and that is what makes marriage such a uniquely God- ordained partnership.

    1. Hi Marissa,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, I have the same view as Dr. Eggerich. I actually asked him to endorse my book, Marriage God’s Way. I told him that I quote him in it and have appreciated his work. He sent back a nice response, but told me he doesn’t even have time to endorse his own pastor’s books!

  8. My favorite reason is the that my title is the same as the Holy Spirit and that my role is a privilege. I also think my role as my husband’s helper is a blessing. I love this role that God has put me in.
    I don’t let what society says to make me think falsely about my role. I only pay attention to what God says. I’ve learned to not listen to what society says.

    1. Hi Jessica,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I also appreciate hearing your favorite reason, as I wondered what women might say. Good for you regarding listening to God’s Word versus the world!

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