Another Look At Job’s Wife

Another Look At Job’s Wife

Another Look At Job’s Wife

By: James L. Thornton

Job 2:9. “Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.

10. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.”

His rhetorical question, urging the acceptance of both good and adversity from God, anticipates one of the central messages of the Book of Job: The person of faith will trust in God through prosperity or adversity, even while unable to understand why bad things happen.

Job’s wife walks across the stage and only gives one comment and the world has passed judgment upon her by this one statement. First of all, if we interpret the book of Job literally we come to the conclusion that Job’s wife lived to an extreme old age, 180 to 200 years old, maybe more.

During such a long period of time, she must have said and done many noble things. Yet it is a pity that the verses which we read (2:9-11) are the things she is remembered by. Satan is glad that they are written and he wants to make sure that they are always read in a sarcastic tone.

Satan would like for us to always remember the lowest point in her life. Likewise, Satan also wants us to be remembered by our low points.

Some word,

Some misdeed,

Satan bounces it back like an echo.

With Satan, there is no such thing as repentance,

No such thing as forgiveness.

The earliest critic of Job’s wife, and the first to assassinate her character, of which I can trace, was Augustine; (354-430 A.D). Augustine called her “The Adjutant of the Devil.” “A spiritual sister of the woman in the Garden of Eden, (Genesis 3:1-24) for she tempted Adam to forsake his creator.”

Adjutant = “One who assists the commanding officer and is responsible for messages sent.”

In this sense, who of us is not guilty of delivering a message from Satan?

In a time of anger,

In a time of deep hurt,

In a time of despair,

Satan is there to provide words to wound, to hurt, to discourage.

In times like these let us guard our thoughts, lest Satan take advantage of our feelings and move us to speak words we don’t want to be remembered for.

The sorrow of Job’s wife has never been adequately dealt with—perhaps never will be—certainly by a man. It was her children who were dead, her possessions gone; her husband was now an invalid, an outcast from society. Yet her part in the sorrow is unexpressed and unrecognized. Her problem seemingly brushed aside. Yet surely she had her problem too. I feel she has been treated unkindly by thousands of preachers.

Job’s problem was intellectual, hers emotional. His was of the head, hers of the heart. Remember in all that happened to this family Job did not suffer alone. Job found a man’s way out, at last, the rest of the book reveals this. Did his wife ever find a way out, or had she no use for God ever afterward? I Think We Can Find An Answer.

There is an old Indian proverb which says, “Never judge another person until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.”

God would not let Ezekiel prophesy to Israel until, “Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days” Ezekiel 3:15.

I don’t feel that we have the knowledge to judge Job’s wife until we sit where she sat, or lay where she lay or stood where she stood in these times of undue stress. I want us to look back a few years previous to these troublesome times and into a time of great joy and happiness in Job’s wife.

The happiest day of her life was when a young man brought two cows or was it five sheep to her father’s tent in exchange for her hand in marriage. She knew from what she saw that this young man was the choicest of all the young men in Ur. Word of his kindness, his generosity, his God-fearing spirit had spread everywhere. Although at this time Job did not possess very much (Job 8:7) the Lord God blessed him and increased his substance.

The second happiest day of her life came several months later when she brought forth her firstborn son after a time of pain and labor. In the weeks and months which followed she enjoyed her little son, nursing him, bathing him, changing him, cuddling him; she remembers his first words, first step. During the next several years she would go to that tent of labor nine more times until there were seven sons and three daughters. There was always something special about each one.

In the meanwhile, their substance had increased until the hills, valleys, and plains for miles around were covered with sheep, camels, oxen, and she-asses which belonged to them. They had need of nothing, in fact, they shared their wealth with those in need. Now in late-middle life Job’s wisdom and kindness had exalted him above all his fellows.

Job’s wife was so happy with her family which shared everything together. She, herself, was a queen of a small kingdom—like Sarah in Abraham’s world. God had built a ‘hedge’ around this family to shelter them from all the trouble of the world. This ‘hedge’ was built upon the prayers and sacrifices and continuous good deeds of both her and Job—so what could possibly go wrong. Her thinking, live right, love God, and keep his laws and commandments and you will always be happy—nothing can ever go wrong.

Then one day, in one hour, everything changed. Her world came apart—blows, after blow, fell upon her–the sheep are gone, the camels are all gone, the oxen are gone, the she-asses are gone, so are the sheep along with all the servants who cared for all the livestock. All of a sudden she is a poor woman again. Then another messenger is there—all ten of your children are dead, killed in a storm.

We cannot imagine the inexplicable anguish, the extreme grief, the awful feeling of pain and distress of body and mind which must have come over her all at once. At first, she would try to deny it—“It’s not true,” “I’ll wake up and it will all be just a bad dream.” She tried to block it out of her mind, but the sorrow just kept it before her at all times. Job tried to comfort her, yea, no doubt they received comfort from each other.

Then all of a sudden her husband, Job, was stricken with these awful sores all over his body. His pain and anguish were so great that he was driven by his affliction to the ash pit on the edge of town where he spent his days and nights mourning out his sorrow and pain.

Blake (English artist, poet, mystic—1757-1827), represents Job’s wife as the faithful attendant upon all her husband’s misery. This is when many wives cop out. One edition of the Book of Job has illustrations, and the illustrations are by a woman, and the pictures of Job’s represent her as utterly overwhelmed by grief. She has thrown herself across Job’s knees, as he sits on the ground, his brow shaded with sackcloth, his mouth half hidden with his hand, his eyes bewildered and heavy, as with sleeplessness.

She lies across Job’s knees, her left arm holding her head, which is hidden; the right arm hangs long and helpless, till the fingers touch the ashes. It is at this moment she says to Job, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God and die.”

Not the cynical jeer, surely, of one who had never known belief, but the last gasp of a passionate heartbroken in its desolation. “Can you still keep your faith? Mine is gone—I care about nothing anymore.” It’s the cry of a woman forsaken by God—she thinks. Do you ever think that God has forsaken you? Have you ever come to that place in your struggle, your pain, your distress, your sorrow?

Forsaken By God—when not even an Egyptian Bondswoman (Hagar) was forgotten by Him—nor the widow of Nain.

Job’s wife (tradition calls her name Mona) had at first gone to the tent of labor, but now the tent of sorrow, the tent of remorse, of despair, she felt alone lonely hopelessness.

Those words (Job 2:9), the only ones recorded for us which she spoke, seems to have been inspired by love and common sense. In other words, this desperate and bewildered woman, still confident in her husband’s integrity, and unable to hope for healing, and sympathizing with his condition, the only answer she feels is just being allowed to die—Mercy Killing.

Death by any means is better than this kind of life. In this expression (Job 2:9), she is crying out against the whole horror of the situation. But Job did not fall into this temptation, and in his stand reached out a hand to ‘stay her’ in this dreaded hour.

Isn’t it marvelous that we don’t all fall into that pit of extreme depression at the same time—or we would all perish? God always has someone who has a reserve of strength for that hour to pull us through. Like a husband and wife team. With words of kindness, of love, of hope—Job reaches for her, First, he was courteous. H did not accuse his wife of being a fool but using a fool’s language.

He understood that she too was suffering in agony. His final expression of trust in God was a living attempt to win her over to his own submission to the Divine will of God. He spoke on her behalf, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?”

In the time of great distress, thank God for love, for kindness, and for a hand to ‘stay’ us when our own faith fails. She would rise out of the ashes to become the queen God intended her to be (Job 42:10-17). No doubt, at her death Satan would come to contend for her body, but no, Job had prayed (Jude 9).

I am reminded of the poems of Martha Swell Nicholson, born 1899, and died 1957 after suffering almost constantly from birth, many diseases. Crippled by arthritis and bedridden most of her life, she overcame the pain and self-pity and lived above it in spite of unbearable afflictions. She wrote over 900 poems.

In one of her poems, which she calls “The Thorn,” she speaks of a pauper standing before God, begging for one priceless gift to call her own.

She took the gift from His hand, but as she departed she cried, “Lord, This Is A Thorn, and it has pierced my heart—this is a strange gift which thou have given me.” God replied, I love to give good gifts—“I Gave My Best To You.”

“I took it home,” she wrote, “and though at first, the cruel thorn hurts sore, as long years passed I grew, at last, to love it more and more. I Learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace—He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face!”

“There will be another day,” she continues, “some glad day I shall walk like others! All memory of helplessness, of the crutch, of iron braces, will melt like mist when I behold the beauty of His face! And so I wait. On swift wings comes that blessed moment when He’ll take my hand, and smiling, and teach me how to walk again!”

So after so many years after falling in love with all the people who make up the stories in the “Greatest Book Ever Written,” I have once again come to the defense of another one. I look towards the day when I shall be able to sit down with them in the Kingdom Of God and go over the details of their story that was not recorded for us.

By, James L. Thornton

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