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Word Study: Handmaiden, Servant, & Service


  1. someone that is necessarily subservient or subordinate to another
  2. a female servant or attendant


  1. serving or acting in a subordinate capacity
  2. servile, submissive
  3. useful in promoting a purpose or end


  1. placed in or belonging to a lower order or rank
  2. of less importance; secondary
  3. subject to or under the authority of a superior
  4. subject, dependent


  1. a persona employed by another; especially to perform domestic duties
  2. a person in service of another


  1. to render assistance; be of use, help
  2. to have definite use
  3. to answer the purpose
  4. to render active service to a sovereign, commander, etc.
  5. to render obedience or homage to God, a sovereign
  6. to perform the duties of a position, an office
  7. to contribute, to promote


  1. a person who attends another, as to perform a service – escort, companion, comrade, follower, retainer, servant


  1. to take care of, minister to, devote one’s service to
  2. to wait upon; accompany as a companion or servant
  3. to listen to, give heed to
  4. to apply oneself
  5. to pay attention, listen or watch attentively; direct one’s thought, pay heed
  6. to follow, to bend to

When I gave my heart to the Lord, one of the hardest concepts for me was “submission.” I was a 90’s woman — educated, self-sufficient, capable of making it on my own if I chose. As I began to love and trust the Lord, I became willing to learn to submit to Him.

I have found it very helpful in my study of the Word to study the words. Just by looking at the definition of a word, I gain a whole new understanding of what the Holy Spirit is saying to me. For example, in the above study, if I had only looked up handmaiden, my “flesh” would have crawled. But, by looking deeper into the words, “serve” and “attend,” I began to see the richer meaning of handmaiden. Read the definitions again, in light of this new approach. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you?


There are 1,314 references in the Old Testament for the word “servant.” Of the six words used referring to servant, three stand out.

Strong’s#05650 (714 references)

  1. slave, servant, man-servan
  2. subject
  3. servants, worshippers (of God
  4. servant (in special sense as prophets, Levites, etc.
  5. servant(of Israel)
  6. servant (as form of address between equals)

I was struck with #3 worshipers. That’s what right-hearted service is, isn’t it? It’s a form of worship to God when we serve Him and by serving others, serve Him as well. We also get a sense that there is a special class of people who are set apart for particular service for God. #6 was interesting wasn’t it? Chivalry did have its charm in the old days where men greeted women and other men with, “Your servant.” And I believe in those days, they meant it!

Strong’s #05647 (263 references)

  1. to work, serve: to labor, work, do work; to work for another, serve another by labor; to serve as subjects; to serve (God); to serve (with Levitical service).
  2. to be worked, be tilled (of land); to make oneself a servant;
  3. to be worked;
  4. to compel to labor or work, cause to labor or work, cause to labor, cause to serve, to cause to serve as subjects; i.e. to be led or enticed to serve

My eyes stopped on “to be worked, be tilled” and I immediately associated that with the word, cultivate. Good and proper service doesn’t come easily. We have to work at it — not just in the doing, but also in the spirit of doing or serving.

Strong’s #05288 (92 references) a boy, lad, servant, youth, retainer

This definition must fit a Joshua or a Timothy. I get the sense that we learn to be a worshiping servant. In order to learn how, we must apprentice with someone older and more mature.


There are 171 references in the New Testament for the word “servant.”Although there are nine different words meaning servant, 119 of them refer to doulos.

Strong’s #1401 (119) references)

  1. a slave, a bondman, a man of servile condition.a servant, attendant
    1. a slave,
    2. metaph.,one who gives himself up to another’s will whose service is used by Christin extending and advancing His cause among men,
    3. devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests.

That was riveting, wasn’t it? … one who gives himself up to another’s will. Gulp…. whose service is used by Christ. All I could think about when I read this was how much am I holding back? Questions like, “Am I serving His or my cause?” “Do I extend or advance His cause?” Core questions there. And if that didn’t stump me, onward toc. devoted… disregarding own interests. Well, yes sometimes that fits, but sometimes it doesn’t. This handmaiden has some searching to do I think.

Other words for servant/handmaiden:

Strong’s #1402

  1. to make a slave of, reduce to bondage;
  2. metaph. give myself wholly to one’s needs and service, make myself a bondman to him.

Strong’s #2324 an attendant, servant; of God – spoken of Moses discharging the duties committed to him by God.

Strong’s #3407 employed for hire, hired.

Strong’s #3610 one who lives in the same house as another, spoken of all who are under the authority of one and the same house holder.


The greatest example of service found in the bible is Jesus Christ, “the word made flesh.” His life, suffering, death, and resurrection epitomize the highest qualities of service.

  • Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:14-17
  • … whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first, must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:43-45
  • Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My father will honor the one who serves me. John 12:26

Service begins in the heart of a servant. Read what Paul has to say about the subject of servanthood.

  • Whatever you do, work at it will all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23,24
  • Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but live saves of Christ, doing the will of god from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men. Ephesians 6:6,7

The Lord’s promises of reward to the faithful servant aren’t given lightly. They are given in faith for our today, in hope for our circumstances, and in love for our perfection.

  • His Master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Matthew 25:21 (Parable of the Talents)
  • And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee. Exodus 23:25

A life-challenging verse on service is found in Proverbs 31. In my quiet times with the Lord, these are the qualities I seek.

  • A capable, intelligent and virtuous woman — who is he who can find her? She is far more precious than jewels and her value if far above rubies and pearls. Proverbs 31:10
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