Reflections: The First Praise Song (Genesis 2:23)

Today we get to reflect on the first praise “song” recorded in the Bible. I put the word “song” in quotes since all we have left is the poetry. I’m sure Adam could have sung these words and there is only a fine line between poetry and lyrics.

I am of course referring to Adam’s poetic outburst when he meets Eve for the first time.

In Genesis 2:18-23 we read this:

18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

19 Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.

20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.

21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.

22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

23 Then the man said, “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.”

Genesis 2:18-23, NAS

Our “praise song” comes in verse 23 where Adam rejoices over meeting Eve. What I find surprising is that this first song celebrates God’s provision instead of God Himself.

My initial thought is that Adam’s first song should go something like “Oh great creator the One who made everything, there is nothing in all creation more deserving of praise than You”

Perhaps Adam’s fascination with Eve instead of with His creator is a sign of spiritual immaturity. Yet even if this is true, he is not reprimanded for that celebration.

Now I’m left with the question “why is the Bible’s first praise song about Adam finding a helper”?

But first, a note about the word “helper”: this is one of the words used to describe God’s relationship with Israel (see Psalm 33:20). I think we tend to think of a “helper” as being less important than the one being helped. Like the helper is an employee and the one being helped is the boss.

To understand Adam and Eve’s relationship, or God’s relationship with Israel, we should shift our thinking about the word “helper” to include the idea of “essential”. God’s help is essential to Israel’s success. Without Him they will fail.

In the case of Adam and Eve, humanity has been given a mission to “be fruitful and multiply”. In a prefall state, being “fruitful” would spread the image of God over all creation. So in Genesis 1, humankind is given a mission to spread God’s image over all of creation by having kids.

Adam cannot fulfill this mission by himself. What is more, God lets Adam experience the frustration of not being able to do what he is designed to do. Adam names every animal but none of them are a helper suitable for the task. None of the animals are made in God’s image.

This means that when Adam bursts out in song he is rejoicing that he is able to fulfill the mission that God has placed upon him.

A note for us post-fall humans: our method of spreading the image of God has changed. Yes, all humans are made in God’s image but we are fallen images. Instead of spreading God’s image by having kids we spread God’s image by proclaiming the gospel. You can do this whether you are married or single.

There is so much to learn from this chapter but today I think it is important to remember that “it is not good for man to be alone”.

Adam couldn’t spread the image of God by himself and, even though the methods have changed, we can’t spread the image of God by ourselves either. We need the fellowship and encouragement of the local church. In His high priestly prayer in John 17, Jesus prays that we, the church, would live in unity with each other and with God so that the world will know that God sent Jesus, His Son. How can we, the church, be one if we, as individuals, are isolated? We need to come together and live in unity so that the world will know that God sent His Son. We need to be together to spread the image of God.

Songwriting Takeaways

Write songs of thanksgiving. Especially giving thanks for that which enables you to serve God. The danger of thanksgiving songs is that we will grow to love the stuff we are thankful for more than we love the one who gives us the stuff. If we remember that the thing we are thankful for helps spread the image of God then we are more likely to keep an eternal perspective on thankfulness.

Write songs for your local church. Chris Tomlin and Phil Wickham don’t know what’s going on in your local church but you do. Did your church just move from a school cafeteria to your own building? Commemorate God’s faithfulness with a new song.

Write lyrics that celebrate unity and the gathering of the saints. The gathering on Sunday morning is such an amazing event. People from all different backgrounds come together to worship the God who transformed them from rebels into beloved children. Write and sing songs that highlight that joy.

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