The following is an excerpt from my new book Eight Great Ways to Honor Your Husband. My husband David has written the companion volume Eight Great Ways to Honor Your Wife:
In our ongoing conversation about honor, it helps to remember that at its core, honor in marriage is a biblical concept. The first mention of marriage in the Bible is between Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis. If you want to understand God’s blueprint for marriage, or anything else for that matter, it helps to look through the lenses of what theologians call “original intent.” What did God originally intend for marriage look like?
We see that God’s purpose for creating marriage was to provide companionship. Everything which God had made up to that point was good. But when he looked at Adam, He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Something was missing. The Genesis account explains that there was no “suitable helper” for Adam, so God plans His next step: “I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).
God created a woman from the very stuff of man, his same substance: “So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man” (Genesis 2:20-24).
The marriage relationship was God’s gift to the humans. Eve was Adams’s companion, but the Bible also calls her his helper. The exact meaning of the word helper has been the source of much confusion and debate for centuries. The word “help” in our English language has evolved into a watered-down version that can mean anything from roadside assistance, to a distress call, to domestic servants.
But in Hebrew, the original language of the Old Testament the word helper is surprisingly strong. Helper, or ezer, means “to support.” One Hebrew scholar has pointed out that ezer is actually a combination of two roots meaning: “to rescue, to save,” and “to be strong.” In its more than twenty uses in the Old Testament, the word ezer is used just twice to refer to the woman. The rest of the time, ezer refers to God as the helper, most often during times of danger or on the battlefield.
So in the Psalms, when David says, “The Lord is with me; He is my helper, I look in triumph on my enemies,” he uses ezer (Psalm 118:7). The word ezer is also closely related to the Hebrew word for rock, or eben. Thus, the Ebenezer stone mentioned in the Bible is a “stone of support.”
I’ve discovered that an important part of being a wife to a strong husband like David is to be his “rock of support” when everything around him feels like it’s crashing down. When you grasp what it means to be an ezer, you begin to get an image of your role as a rock, not a doormat. Your challenge is to become strong so that you are a source of strength for a husband who will sometimes be weak.
Do you see the powerful imagery here? Think about what it means to be strong like a “rock” for our husbands, for our families, and for our communities. We live in a hurting and broken world. Lord knows we need more women who are willing to live strong as ezers.