This article was originally posted in January of 2009, as part of a study of Proverbs 31. As we begin looking at chapter 2 of my book Juggling Life’s Responsibilities, “Fulfilling Your God-Given Roles,” I thought this would be an excellent reminder of the first role God gave to women, being a “suitable helper” to their husbands.
Today’s verses are:
“The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:11-12).
Husbands need to succeed.
When God created Adam, the first man, He gave Adam dominion “over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26). In that first command, I think we see why our husbands have such a drive to succeed. God put within their hearts a longing to rule over this earth.
This desire to rule well and to see the earth become productive is the way YHVH created our husbands. When YHVH looked at what He had made, He pronounced it “very good.” In Hebrew, this is me’od tov, or exceedingly good. It was able to produce, able to function in the way the Creator intended.
So into a man’s heart, YHVH placed a desire to make things produce, to help things function properly. When a man is able to fulfill this desire for tov or good, he is at peace. He is tov himself because he is functioning the way the Creator made him.
Some men do this by working with their hands. Others do it by inventing new things, or by organizing what YHVH has made, or by supervising, or by teaching, or by studying. Creating children is the ultimate joy, if those children are full of peace and joy and tov themselves.
Husbands need a helper in order to fulfill their life’s purpose.
We find in Genesis 2 that our husbands need a helper to assist them in their life’s purpose. By parading all the animals in front of him, YHVH demonstrated to Adam that only a certain helper would do. As special (and even magnificent) as the animals were, “for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:20).
That’s when God tenderly put Adam to sleep and crafted a beautiful woman out of his own flesh. The reason for His creation of a woman is stated very specifically in verse 18: “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
It was not good, not tov. He would not be able to function the way the Creator made him if he didn’t have a wife by his side, a woman who was comparable to him, someone who could support and shield him.
He would not be able to fulfill his purpose. He wouldn’t be effective working with his hands. He wouldn’t be able to invent new things, or organize what YHVH had made, or supervise well, or teach, or study as he wanted. He would not be able to create children.
Dear woman, whether you’ve realized it or not doesn’t change the truth of your life’s purpose. You exist to be a helper to a man. That’s why God created you. You can be a friend, a daughter, a musician, a painter, a writer, a teacher, a business owner, etc. But all of these just show your abilities, not your purpose. Your purpose is to be a helper to a husband. Together, you have a function to perform. You were created for a reason, to help this world bring forth good.
Wives have a history of doing evil for their husbands rather than good.
Genesis 3 tells the story of the first marriage in which the husband and wife mixed up their roles. Eve desired dominion (over the truth of the knowledge of good and evil, or maybe we could even say she desired to follow Satan in trying to have dominion over YHVH Himself!).
She asked Adam to join her in her desire. Do you see how mixed up this was? Why wasn’t she with her husband? Why wasn’t she asking him what he wanted and then seeking to help him with that task?
The fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil definitely opened up new abilities, but the evil knowledge only brought about ra, or dysfunction. The man and the woman were now impaired, taking mutated actions which were far from the beautiful productions the Creator had intended.
Ever since, we wives have had a sour history of helping our husbands do evil rather than good, or asking our husbands to be our “suitable helpers” rather than aspiring to be theirs.
The result is a lot of activity, but it produces nothing of lasting value. It brings destruction and barrenness.
A virtuous wife helps her husband succeed, not wants her husband to help her succeed.
Now we can see what a treasure the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 really is! She has a long history of being a “suitable helper,” doing her husband tov and not ra, good and not evil, day after day, consistently, repeatedly. She isn’t out to please herself or attain great things for herself. Rather she’s thinking about him and how together they can fulfill their God-given purposes for their lives. She thinks of how to work with him, to help him, to support and shield him.
Because she does this day after day (“all the days of her life,” Proverbs 31:12), his heart has relaxed around her. He safely and securely puts his trust in her, and he’s not afraid of having everything that is precious to him destroyed by her evil, selfish ambitions.
Note how his helper has made him a success:
“Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land” (Proverbs 31:23).
Not only is her husband functioning as YHVH intended, but their entire society is now functioning with order and effectiveness! He has borne children who are tov, productive, and now he sits among the elders, rendering wisdom to all in their city and making righteous judgments to be sure everything they produce collectively brings honor to the Creator.
This lesson is very convicting to me, because my mind is constantly buzzing with ideas of things I can do with this one life of mine. I’m driven to succeed and I’m driven to accomplish. Yes, this is the personality God gave me, but His Word says that true peace and joy (in my marriage or otherwise) comes when I channel this passion for success toward my husband. I’ve found that when I work to make him succeed, I find joy together with him. When he is happy, so am I! When he looks at all he has created with the works of his hands and rejoices, I realize that our lives are tov. They are very good.
Funny it should work this way, huh? It’s just the way God made us women!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture in this blog post taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.