Few words in the Bible have sparked as many battles as helper. Whole books and doctoral theses have been written on the word, its meaning, and its implications. It’s too bad, this, because helper is a word meant to generate praise and humility.
You know the words of Genesis 2:18. God has completed his work of Creation and has declared that it is all excellent, it is all exactly as it ought to be. Yet still he declares “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Something interesting happens here. God declares that it is not good for the man to be alone and that he needs a helper and yet doesn’t just go ahead and create this helper. Not yet. As far as we know, he doesn’t say anything to Adam about a helper. Instead, he tasks Adam with naming all of the animals. As Adam does this, as every living creature parades before him, he sees that none of them are like him—none have been created in the image of God. Adam isn’t lonely. How could he be lonely in a perfect world? But he realizes that in order to carry out his God-given mandate he will need help. Only now does God cause man to fall asleep and create for him a woman. When Adam opens his eyes and sees what God has created for him that he bursts into praise. He looks upon this woman and immediately sees that she is like him.
This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.
It is only after he comes to understand his incompleteness that Adam is able to offer God the deepest and most heartfelt praise for such lavish provision. Having experienced need even in perfection, he knows the value of this gift.
The text emphasizes that even in a perfect world something was not good. It shows us that God’s intention for Adam included marriage, companionship and, of course, the sexual relationship and procreation. God does not exist in isolation but in a tri-unity, and man, too, is to live in relationship. To address this need God created a helper for him—a helper corresponding to him and complementing him. This helper is suitable for Adam, meaning that she too is made in God’s image, she is equal to him in dignity and worth, and she is exactly the kind of helper he needs.
There are two dimensions to the word helper that we need to see and understand—the explicit and the implied.