I saved my husband’s life. I always imagined he would be saving mine. A thief would break in. My husband would dash out of bed and take him down with all his years of Marine training. Or more realistically, I would clumsily trip near the edge of a cliff, and he would grab my shirt before I fell to my doom. He may still have an opportunity, but recently I saved his. In the days afterward, it became clear to me that I was created to be his help meet and now I know why.
Help Meet in the Bible
I have written a few articles on the biblical meaning of help meet. Two pieces to be exact, “A New Look at Help Meet” and “Ezer: Meaning and Biblical Usage.” At points in these articles, I get very technical and I do believe that is important. In-depth studies help us form better theology and help us avoid the traps of culture or tradition that can many times skew our understanding.
In these articles, I explain the real meaning of “help meet.” Tradition has sometimes led us to think that ezer, the transliterated Hebrew word behind help meet, is no more than a glorified servant. But, when you follow the biblical usage of ezer, you learn that being a help meet is actually a great privilege. It is a term that God used in the Old Testament to refer to himself that also has military connotations. Yes, it means to help, but more in the sense of rescuing, protecting, or looking out for–the way that God protected Israel.
In this most recent incident with my husband, I gained a much deeper understanding of help meet. Experience clarified theology.
A Help Meet in the Bathroom
While engrossed in a riveting fictional book about the Hittites, I heard my husband call my name from the bathroom. He had been feeling a bit nauseous so I knew I better put the book down. But before I could bunny ear the page, I heard him tumble. In full panic mode, I ran to him and found him collapsed on the floor, held slightly upright by a wicker basket he had just crushed. I screeched his name, but my husband’s gaze was locked into the ether. His limbs were limp and he was not even blinking. I thought he was gone. I screamed some more.
Okay, I didn’t even think about checking his pulse. That is what my husband would have told me to do. He is the calm one in emergency situations. When my then five-year-old had a seizure, it was my husband who cared for her and gave me stern directions on what to do—so I could actually be of help and keep my panic at bay. But now, he was not there to keep me calm. He was the emergency. So I just screamed some more.
I think I screamed loud enough to wake him from his slumber (or bring him back from the dead). It didn’t matter. I calmed down just enough to watch him slowly come to and then proceed to gently talk me off the ledge. “It is okay. I am okay. Breathe. Take a deep breath,” he said. “I just passed out. Everything is going to be okay.” He was there, after all, to walk me through the emergency–well until he stopped making sense.
No, he had not lost cognitive function. Once he came to, his mind was back to his old self, his man self that is. “No, you are not calling the ambulance,” he chided. Now, I had the blank stare. What did he mean he did not want me to call an ambulance? I begged, I pleaded, but he was adamant that I not call 911. “I will just sleep it off,” he said. Huh?
Lord, I want to honor my husband, but this is crazy talk. I know he is the head of the wife, but this is one fight I am not going to lose! I really couldn’t believe that I was arguing with my husband as he lay there on the tile floor unable to move without help. But I did not relent and he finally agreed to go to the ER if I drove him. Okay. I could live with that.
I Was Created to Save Him from Himself
Upon arriving at the ER, he was immediately triaged and connected to machines. Once they found him an open room, he was taken up to the upper levels. He would be hospitalized for the next two days. His condition only required a relatively simple set of procedures and he would be back to normal. But it was only afterward that we realized how close he had come to meeting Jesus face to face. We both laugh about it now. We laugh about it a lot, but if I had let him “sleep it off” as he so wanted to do, he most likely would have died. Yes, my forceful nagging and (godly) disobedience saved his life. I was created to be his help meet and in that moment I played the role God created for me millennia ago as a protector and rescuer. Who knew that meant rescuing him from himself?
My husband is amazing. He truly loves me the way Christ loved the church. I could see it even in the way he soothed me on that bathroom floor as I sobbed while he lay there unable to move. But as much as I need him, he needs me. When God said in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” He was thinking of my husband. My husband, alone, would have killed himself by crawling back into bed and going to sleep.
Women are Protectors
My husband has seen combat. He is a man’s man. He would quickly put himself in harm’s way to rescue me or my daughters. I think most good husbands and fathers would. And yet God does not call men ezers, help meets. He does not give men this peculiar designation He gives Himself as a shield, a rescuer, and a protector.
As women, we do not have the physical strength to pummel a thief in the middle of the night (unless you are Gina Carano. Gina Carano totally could). The man is expected to and he should. In the Bible, men are expected to fight. There are no better examples of fierce warriors than King David’s mighty men. They do rescue and protect, but they are not called by God ezers. Why?
I believe he uses that term to refer to women because it is not immediately obvious. By their physical strength, it is undeniable that men can rescue and protect. However, since women are the “weaker vessel,” women, traditionally, have not been seen that way. Even in the traditional interpretations of ezer we see a dismissive attitude. But a woman who loves her husband and loves the Lord will rescue her husband (and children) time and time again. She may not be able to protect him with Wonder Woman moves, but she will rescue him nonetheless. (We find similar messaging in the Proverbs 31 Woman).
So I believe God uses the word ezer for women to assure them of the significant role they play. Ladies, you were created to be his help meet. Don’t boast about it, but rest in the knowledge that God gave you something that is uniquely His, to be uniquely yours. Use it to do your husband good all the days of his life (Proverbs 31:12), to help him lead well. And husbands, remember that you are not to trust in armies, or strong allies, or in the power of your hands, but if your wife fears the Lord, you can trust in her…..especially when you are on the bathroom floor hours away from meeting your maker.
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.Proverbs 31:11 (ESV)
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