What Does Girded Mean In The Bible?
The word ‘girded’ originates from the Old English word gyrdling, which means belt or sash. The Hebrew equivalent is a ‘me’il’ or ‘almod’, and the Greek equivalent is ‘zoma’, ‘girdle’ or ‘zone’, all of which mean belt or girdle. In the Bible, the girded or me’il is a type of clothing used to clothe and adorn a person and signify their station or standing in life, similar to how a belt of lace or a medal denotes rank today.
Girded as a Symbol of Preparation
The girded is often mentioned in the Bible when it is emphasising preparation. In many cases, the girded is associated with readiness for a task or mission. For example, in Ephesians 6:14, it is said that the ‘girdle of truth’ should be ‘put on’, which could be taken to mean that truth should be embraced and trusted upon in preparation for life’s journey. Similarly, in Luke 12:36, Jesus tells his disciples to ‘be ready’ by wearing a girded, and in Nehemiah 4:23, the ‘workman’s girdle’ is mentioned to highlight the importance of precision and diligence in the guard’s work.
Girded as a Symbol of Strength and Authority
The girded was also used as a symbol of strength and authority. For instance, it was common for soldiers and kings to wear a girded on their loins. In 1 Samuel 18:4, it says ‘And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle’. This passage highlights the importance of the girded to signal the transfer of power and strength to David. In the same book, it is also noted that Saul, who was the king of Israel at that time, wore a girded as a sign of his strength and power.
Girded as a Symbol of Protection
The girded was also used as a symbol of protection, especially in battle. In Exodus 12:11, the Israelites were instructed to ready themselves for the tenth plague of Egypt by wearing not just their shoes, but their ‘girdles’ as well. The implication here is that the girded provided additional protection from the harmful conditions. Similarly, Samuel 17:39 mentions Saul’s armour bearer wearing a girded as a sign of protection and preparedness for doing battle with Goliath.
Girded as a Symbol of Holiness
In addition to being symbols of strength and protection, the girded was also used to denote holiness. In Matthew 3:4, John the Baptist ‘was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey’. This sermon that John was wearing a girdled was likely to signify separation from the world, and to signal a higher purpose and dedication to God- this in essence is holiness. Similarly, Mark 6:8 records that Jesus had instructed his apostles to wear girdles as a symbol of holiness when going about their mission.
Girded as a Symbol of Wealth and Status
Girdles were also used as a symbol of wealth and status in the Bible. In 2 Kings 5:5, when Naaman offers gifts to Elijah, one of the items mentioned is a girdle. This implies that it was a desired and valued item. Furthermore, Proverbs 31:24 mentions the virtuous woman wearing ‘golden girdles’, which is likely a symbol of her worth, both economically and in terms of character.
Girded as a Symbol of Maturity and Wisdom
The girded also served as a visual reminder of maturity and wisdom. For example, in 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul admonishes Timothy to ‘let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity’ and then goes on to state the Timothy should ‘gird himself with an honest prayer’. Here Paul is using the girded to remind Timothy to be diligent and wise in his actions, and to be aware that with age and maturity comes the ability to think and act with clarity and insight.
Girded as a Symbol of Spiritual Renewal and Purity
Finally, the girded was also used as a symbol of spiritual renewal and purity. In this case, the girded was used as an outward symbol of internal change. For example, in Isaiah 11:5, it states that ‘the righteous shall be girded with and courage’. Here the girded is being used to emphasize the spiritual transformation that accompanies righteousness. Similarly, in Joel 2:12, it says ‘Turn to the Lord your God and gird yourselves with and courage’, here the girded is being used to encourage and empower the people to turn away from their sinful behaviors and embrace a righteous lifestyle.
Girded as a Symbol of Preparation for Suffering
Girded is sometimes seen in the Bible as a symbol of preparation to suffer. This is highlighted in Psalm 22:8, which mentions the wearing of a girded as a symbol of resilience, courage, and strength in the face of oppression and suffering. In Isaiah 50:7, it says that God’s ‘righteous One’ will wear a girded and be ready to suffer, this conveyed the idea that God was aware of the suffering and difficulties His followers would experience but that they should learn to embrace them with dignity.
Girded as a Symbol of Comfort
In the Bible, the girded was also used to provide comfort in times of disquiet. Isaiah 22:21 mentions that God says ‘I will clothe him with your robe and strengthen him with your girded’, by this He is essentially providing the person with emotional and spiritual support. Furthermore, in Isaiah 11:5, it states that God will ‘ comfort all who mourn’ and in order to do this He will ‘gird them with and courage’. This again shows that the girded was used to provide solace and comfort in times of distress.
Girded as a Symbol of Laughter
Finally, the girded was used as a symbol of joy, laughter, and good company. In the book of Proverbs, this is seen in chapter 31, in which the woman of valor is said to be ‘clothed with strength and dignity’, and to ‘laugh without fear of the future’. The image of a person clothed with a girded is symbolic of the comfort and joy we can experience in being with family and friends, and being at peace in the knowledge that we have done all that we can do with what we have.
Girded as a Symbol of Community
Another way in which the girded is seen in the Bible is as a symbol of community and unity. This is highlighted in Acts 12:8, when Peter escapes prison and the angel of the Lord tells him to put on his girdle. This is thought to be a reminder that despite his personal circumstances, he was still part of the wider community and that his connections would sustain him. Furthermore, in Esther 8:14, Esther’s girded is said to remind her of her true identity as a chosen leader. This conveys the idea that even when one’s community around them is on unsteady ground, one should remember their identity, background and importance in the wider social group.
Girded as a Symbol of Faith
Finally, the girded was also used as a symbol of faith. For example, in Psalm 45:3-4, the bridegroom is said to be ‘girded with and goodness’ in order to indicate his faith in God and his commitment to remain dedicated to His teaching. This is similar to what is seen in Song of Solomon 8:10 and Revelation 1:13, in which the girded is seen as a sign of loyalty, hope, and promise that despite all of the struggles and obstacles the faithful may face they will press on with faith.
The girded has a long history in the Bible as a symbol of many things including faith, courage, strength, protection, loyalty, preparation, holiness, and joy. It has often been used to represent spiritual as well as physical awakening, and as a reminder of the importance of community, unity, and steadfastness. Regardless of its many different connotations, the girded stands as a powerful symbol of comfort and hope in the Bible that resonates with people from all backgrounds and communities.