It was not good for Adam to be alone. The Lord therefore created Eve to be his wife, as the AV puts it, “a help meet for him.” A more comprehensive translation would be “a help, his real counterpart.” It was therefore God’s plan and design that a man’s wife should not just be his “real counterpart”, but also his “helper”.
In the Hebrew text the word “help” is EZER, which is found in numerous contexts in the O.T. As a proper name it occurs as EZRA. In Psalm 70:5 we read, “I am poor and needy, make haste unto me, O God, You are my HELP and my deliverer.” In every case where a person cannot manage alone, and a HELP is needed, the word EZER is found. Truly, a wife should be a “helper”. It is therefore equally true that in God’s sight, and in the normal run of things, man needs help. He is not supposed to operate alone.
In the N.T. Jesus said that His disciples would need a Helper in the Person of the Holy Spirit, even as He had been their Helper in His ministerial years. He used the Greek word PARAKLETOS to describe the Helper, the Paraclete, the “Comforter” in the A.V. translation. It is truly a “comfort” to receive help, and the Lord never intended His disciples to get along in their own strength, either then or now. Only that which is the working-together of the Holy Spirit and the child of God can produce fruit acceptable to the Lord.
But the Lord Himself seeks a Bride, a Wife, one who can be a “helper” to Him. This may seem strange. How come that the Lord should be in need? Simply because in the Kingdom of God, when grace will reach out to the “residue of men”, the Lord desires to use His little flock to represent Him on earth, to be His ambassadors, to reflect His own character. No wonder that we find at the end of Revelation, the words, “The Spirit and the Bride say ‘Come’.” That is a summary of the whole work of preparation in God’s children. They do not say ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ by themselves, but by the witness of the Spirit within, they cry together for the Bridegroom’s coming.
The Holy Spirit is the Mother figure in the Godhead. In Ephesians 5 we are told that “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined unto his wife . . . This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.” (5:31-32) There is no mystery about human beings getting married. It happens all the time. But very few have grasped the significance of Paul’s words. Jesus left His Father and Mother in heaven, to come to the earth to seek a Bride, one whom He loves unto death, one whom He washes with the water of His word, one who will bring Him much joy.
The word Paraclete comes from two Greek words, meaning, “to call alongside”, in other words, it is exactly the same as the “help” God gave to Adam when he created Eve. In legal affairs we sometimes need to call in the help of one trained in matters of litigation. We refer to him as an Advocate, or a Solicitor. Some versions of the N.T. use the word Advocate when translatingParakletos.
Now we come to the unpleasant side of things. After the fall, God said to Eve that Adam should “rule over her.” Why?Because she had been deceived. In what sense therefore should he “rule”? In such a manner that his wife should no longer be subject to Satanic powers. But throughout history man has taken this word and used it in quite a different manner than that which God intended. He has lorded it over his wife, made her into something less than human, degraded her, refused to listen to her, treated her as housekeeper, cleaner, washerwoman, child-minder, and object of his sexual energies. This is the unpleasant side of things.
In what sense should a husband “rule over” his wife? The first time the word “rule” is used in Genesis is in 1:18, where the sun and moon are to “rule over” the day and the night. One does not get the impression of heavy-handed subjection, rather the reverse. The “light holders” are a beneficent influence on the earth. “He who rules over men must be just”. (2 Sam.23:3) In 1 Cor.11:10 we read that “a woman [i.e. a wife] should have authority on her head because of the angels.” A tricky verse to understand fully, but I get the impression that the “authority” [her husband] is there to guard her against spiritual abuse, to be an umbrella of protection.
To sum up, our wives should be precious to us, adequately covered spiritually, loved even as Christ loves His church. That is the “ruling” aspect. The other aspect is that the wife is then, and only then, able to fulfil her function as “helper” to her husband. Her spiritual wisdom, keen insight, sensitivity to the gentle pressures of the Holy Spirit, can then be used to the full, and rich is the husband who encourages his wife to act in this capacity, wise is the ear that listens to his wife’s helping words, who doesn’t think himself too high and mighty to listen to her whisper of caution, direction, or enlightenment.
All this may sound too idealistic to some, and even engender laughter. But it is the Lord’s request from His word, even if in practice we make a bit of a mess of it at times. My point is this – if a man and wife both understand these principles from the start of their marriage, then they can work together, pray together, and grow into that oneness the Lord desires. It’s a romantic image that’s worth working at, a dream that can become a reality.