Divine Sustainer

“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18).

This single verse from Genesis reveals to the observant student of Scripture the most amazing role of the wife to her husband. As we shall see, the significance of this passage, as well as the divine role that the Lord has give to the wife, is truly astounding.

The wife is her husband’s companion, helper, co-laborer, and assistant. Yet her largest and most significant role is that of sustainer. This is the heart of the matter concerning God’s use of the word “help.”

Eve was made – by divine design – to be Adam’s sustainer. A careful study of the Hebrew word for “help” is where we will learn the very core of who God made the woman to be. The Hebrew word is ezer,” Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon #5828. Outside of the context of Eve, the word is used 19 more times in the Old Testament. Of these 19 times the vast majority (at least 16 of them) are a direct reference to one of God’s attributes. It is in these passages where we will gain our real understanding of this Hebrew word that is translated “help” here in Genesis chapter two.

One would notice from an examination of the passages that contain the word “ezer” in them, that God’s own role of “help” to Israel as defined by its usage is that of a rescuer, a deliverer, a life-saver – in a word, He is sustainer. His work in this regard is certainly no small matter. “Ezer” is a word that describes one who actively intervenes.

Robert Alter confirms what we learn from the usage of “ezer” in the Old Testament:

‘Ezer’ elsewhere connotes active intervention on behalf of someone …” – Genesis: Translation and Commentary, W.W. Norton & Co. (1996).

That God would use the exact same word “help” as the description of the woman is very significant. God describes Eve with the very same word that He uses to describe Himself. He committed to her one of His attributes. He gave to her one of His very own roles, so that she may be to her husband a divine vessel of sustenance.

The wife has been designed by God Himself as her husband’s sustainer. She is not merely a “helper” in the sense that she just assists him in lifting the other end of his tool chest, or assists him in balancing the checkbook (although she may do these things). No, she is his divine helper, his divine sustainer, his divinely designed life-saver.

The husband’s sustenance actually comes from God Himself – He is his sustaining source – but God has divinely determined that His sustaining provision be supplied through the instrumentality of the wife. She is God’s chosen vessel of His sustenance to the husband. She provides her husband with divine sustenance. She has been given to her husband to be God’s channel of divine enablement to him, and since this is a role rooted in divine-life, she can only fulfill her design by living God’s life to her husband.

So, God’s design in the husband-wife relationship is ultimately a spiritual one. Thus for us today, husband and wife are the closest members of Christ’s body to each other.

“From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16).

By God’s design, the husband-wife relationship is the very closest joint within the body of Christ. Who could be more “fitly joined together”? Thus there is an “effectual working” between the two of them, her being his designed sustainer – in the likeness of God’s very own role – and accordingly they are said to be “heirs together of the grace of life” (I Peter 3:7).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Heaven’s Embassy: the Divine Plan and Purpose of the Home
Bible Student’s Press

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