Sound doctrine from the word.

What is a Help Meet? — part 2

In part 1 of this series, we looked at the Biblical usage of the word help. In this second part, we’ll look at the word meet.

Meet as a verb #

The reader is encouraged to look up each time the word meet is used in scripture, and read each of the verses. We are going to focus on the use of meet as an adjective or adverb, but even in its use as a verb it conveys much about the meaning of help meet. When two things meet they come together.

Summarizing all of the verses, here is what happens when things meet:

  • seek, and find
  • see, present and show, not hide
  • walked and went, or hasted and ran
  • speak, ask and beseech, answer, and tell
  • bow and do obeisance
  • be sent, rise, turn, and go
  • swear, embrace, and kiss
  • take a present, have joy and make glad
  • rejoice with timbrels, dances, singing, and instruments of music
  • be caught up, and brought to his house
  • come together, and commune
  • be no longer alone

Meet as an adjective #

Meet is usually a verb, designating an action. However, in a few of the OT verses, and many of the NT verses, it is used as adjective as in Genesis, referring to a quality of an object. In all, there are 28 verses that use it this way, 14 in the OT, and 14 in the New.

Not as archaic as one might think, we still use it in a similar way to day, when we say that somebody “met the requirements.”

Genesis 2:18 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 2:20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

These two verses together give a clear enough definition that no others would be needed. The first says that the man was alone, and the second repeats this thought by saying that no help meet for him was found. This connects with the verb usage of the word meet, in which two things come together.

Secondly, the first verse says that it was not good that man should be alone, and this is contrasted with meet. Something meet is good for the man to be with and have as a help. The second verse again confirms the thought, by saying that among the animals no help was found that was meet for him. That is, none was good to be his help that he be not alone.

Meet may be defined in passing as merely “suitable”, but it is much more than this. Something meet is good and proper, not just suitable. Consider the next usage:

Exodus 8:26 And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us?

The contrast is between meet and abomination. Here meet is actually used to describe an action, not an object. It cannot be saying that it is not suitable. It is saying rather that it is not good and proper, but abominable, to take this action in this manner.

Deuteronomy 3:18 And I commanded you at that time, saying, The LORD your God hath given you this land to possess it: ye shall pass over armed before your brethren the children of Israel, all that are meet for the war.

This might seem to mean only suitable, or able, but consider the next verse:

19 But your wives, and your little ones, and your cattle, (for I know that ye have much cattle,) shall abide in your cities which I have given you;

In other words, those that were meet for the war were the men. The wives and little ones were not meet. That is, it would not be proper for them to be sent into battle.

Judges 5:30 Have they not sped? have they not divided the prey; to every man a damsel or two; to Sisera a prey of divers colours, a prey of divers colours of needlework, of divers colours of needlework on both sides, meet for the necks of them that take the spoil?

Meet carries a positive connotation. Not only is something meet good and proper, but the thing it is meet for is good and proper, and is worthy of something worthy of it. The next verse shows this also:

2 Kings 10:3 Look even out the best and meetest of your master’s sons, and set him on his father’s throne, and fight for your master’s house.

That is, the most worthy.

Ezra 4:14 Now because we have maintenance from the king’s palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king’s dishonour, therefore have we sent and certified the king;

Here meet could be replaced with “good”, “proper”, or, more to the point, “to our benefit”. Something that is meet is to the proper benefit of that which is met by it. That is, it benefits the worthiness of that thing.

Esther 2:9 And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, which were meet to be given her, out of the king’s house: and he preferred her and her maids unto the best place of the house of the women.

Here again the connotation of worthy shines through.

Job 34:31 Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more:

Meet here is good and proper, right.

Proverbs 11:24 There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.

That is, more than is good, right, proper. More than he should. The result is not beneficial.

Jeremiah 26:14 As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you.

That is, good and proper.

Jeremiah 27:5 I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me.

Good, right, proper.

Ezekiel 15:4 Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel; the fire devoureth both the ends of it, and the midst of it is burned. Is it meet for any work?

5 Behold, when it was whole, it was meet for no work: how much less shall it be meet yet for any work, when the fire hath devoured it, and it is burned?

Here suitable could be used. Beneficial could as well.

Matthew 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

The parallel passage in Luke gives the definition (note chapter and verse, for easy cross-referencing!):

Luke 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance…

Meet fruits are fruits that are worthy.

Matthew 15:26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.

Mark 7:27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.

That is, not proper, not right, not good.

Luke 15:32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

That is, proper. The occasion called for it.

Acts 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

We have already seen this defined as worthy. Proper.

Romans 1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

Proper. A recompense that they were worthy of (negatively).

1 Corinthians 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

Not worthy of the title. The good and best is what is meet, and he is the least.

1 Corinthians 16:4 And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.

Proper is intended here, when considering the broader context, which is about propriety of the handling of the money given for the poor saints at Jerusalem.

Philippians 1:7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.

Proper. They are worthy of this thought. It is meet.

Colossians 1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

A sense of worthiness cannot be escaped here.

2 Thessalonians 1:3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;

Good, right, worthy to be done.

2 Timothy 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

Sanctified carries the ideas of worthy and proper, while prepared carries “good” and “suitable.” And indeed, the bookends are “honor” and “good work”.

Hebrews 6:7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:

Suitable. Although, when the application is considered, there is a propriety and worthiness here as well. The saints are to bring forth fruit that is meet unto the LORD. Meet fruits have already been defined, in the context of repentance, as worthy fruits.

2 Peter 1:13 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;

Good, right, proper.

Conclusion #

Something that is meet is:

  • best, not least
  • good
  • sanctified
  • prepared

Something that is meet is good. It is good of itself, but beyond that, it does good. When brought to meet the thing that it is meet for, it creates an even greater good.

Something that is meet is proper. It is good in a moral sense, as well as in value. It is right and suitable from a social and moral perspective.

Something that is meet is worthy. It is proper in the sense of coming up to the same level as that which it is meet for. It is not inferior, lesser, or lacking.

Thus, when something is met by something that is meet, it is a statement also about the worth and worthiness of the thing being met. That is, the thing met is also good and proper and worthy. The very statement that something should be meet for it is a compliment. (The exception is when the statement is made in the negative, but this only reinforces the fact that there is an equal (un)worthiness between the two things that are meet.)

When speaking of making a help meet for Adam, God is not talking just of making a suitable help, but one suitable in these qualities. That is, a help that is good and proper and worthy of Adam. The animals were not only unsuitable to Adam’s basic needs, but they were unworthy to be a help to the one God had given dominion. It was therefore not proper that he should be given any of them in this office.

The primary connotation of “making an help meet for him,” after the basic fact of the help meeting Adam’s needs, is one of worthiness. God would make a help worthy of Adam, the designated head of creation.

There is a palpable need for equal worthiness between Adam and his help. An help of unequal worth simply could not be meet.

The sense of benefit is clear here as well, as the purpose being met is one of being a help. The help will by nature benefit Adam. Out of this will come a good that is greater than either Adam or his help alone.

And so in making a help meet for Adam, God would make Adam a help that was worthy of him, that was proper for him, and that would be good for him. He sanctified and prepared her specially to best meet Adam’s needs. That is the function of a help, and therefore a help must be meet to be of value. God would make a most valuable help for Adam, one that was specially designed to be meet for him. And so he did.

Genesis 2:21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

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