Job: Sermon 9: Part 2: The Wife of Job

Job 2v9 His wife said to him, “Do you still continue in your singleness? Curse God and die!”

Now, Job’s wife comes to him to provoke him to despair.

The devil finds means enough to encumber us, without having to use his bellows to quicken up the fire. There is such a great sturdiness in human nature’s rebellion against God that it is pitiful to see. Instead of quietly submitting ourselves to God and to his Holy Spirit as we ought to do, we conceive wandering imaginations and there is not any of us at all who does not have a store of dotages in his brain, through which he is made drunken. We know that all the lusts of our flesh are enemies against God. So then, there is not one of us who does not overshoot himself, even when there is nobody to entice us and to provoke us against God, or to draw us into despair. In short, even though Satan may take no instruments outside our own persons to deceive us, he shall find enough within us. Our enemies are already within us, for all our wavering fancies are utter enemies to God and all our affections are armed against him to make us strive against his punishments when he sends them to us.

Therefore, a double war was waged against Job when besides the possibility of being tempted within himself, his own wife provoked him to despair. For that brought the misery in even greater measure. But God permits this to happen to his faithful ones, especially when he has determined to try them to the quick.

This did not happen to Job alone. We see it in David in the sixty ninth psalm and we see it most of all in our Lord Jesus Christ. These are two mirrors, in which God meant to represent this kind of temptation to us. One of the most grievous complaints that David made was that he was mocked for putting his trust in God. He became a laughing stock and men stuck out their tongues at him and mocked him saying, ‘See here! He boasted that he sat in God’s lap. He called God his protector, his buckler and his fortress. He bragged that he called upon God and that he resorted to God for refuge. It seemed that God would never forsake him. But look now! It has become clear how God really esteemed David!’ All the miseries that David endured were not so hard to digest, nor were their wounds so deadly, as these reproaches that the men hurled at him. And truly Satan sees how he holds us by the throat, when he has won this point at our hands. For he does not simply stand scanning where he may prick or wound us in an arm or leg, but rather, when he has won this point, he has succeeded in scoring a direct hit, right at the heart and throat. So one of his main weapons is to use wicked people to mock us as though we have trusted God in vain and as though we were disappointed of the hope that we waited for at the hand of God. We see then that our faith will go to utter ruin if for one minute we give the slightest consideration to such temptation.

Having noted what befell David, we can see that the same was accomplished in our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, it behoves the faithful to be fashioned like him and to fulfil their calling. We should put ourselves in readiness to resist when we are called upon to endure adversities and when wicked persons, for that is what Job’s wife was, come to sting us by scoffing at our faith, in a way that can only cast us into despair if we allow it; in a way intended to convince our hearts that God is against us and to convince us that we will be cut short of the trust that we place in him when we do not find the succour that we looked for at his hand. Let us arm ourselves against such temptations that we do not quail under them.

Job’s wife was indeed a wicked woman. A person may be brought to despair by persecutions against himself. But when a person encourages another to forsake God, that is an entirely different order of magnitude. Why was this woman Job’s wife? One can only conclude that in times of comfort, everything was sweetness and light and that there was no reason to suspect that her heart was set against God. It was only under times of trial that her heart was revealed. She is one of the antichrists that the apostle John writes about in the second chapter of his first epistle:

1 John 2v18 – 19 Dear children, this is the last hour; and you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

Job’s wife shows clearly and plainly which side she is on and she shows that she had never belonged to God’s faithful in the first place. But it is only in time of trial that she ‘went out’ and, in so doing, declared herself.

Through his wife, the trials of Job were compounded to such an extremity that they were almost unendurable. Nevertheless, we see what is written here of Job. The God who upheld Job will also uphold all his faithful so that we do not quail. But the Holy Scripture shows us here that after Satan has tormented us and has visited us in goods, family and body and everything else, he knits up the matter by ensuring that we are mocked and that our faith is assaulted. And whenever this is done, the name of God is blasphemed. If we love God, we must necessarily be grieved to the heart when that happens. For when the unfaithful scorn us as though we have been rejected of God, it is God whom they accuse of untruth, as though God Almighty himself had beguiled us. Therefore, it must necessarily grieve us and torment us. But however the world goes, we should not faint for all that. Let us remember what happened to Job, and to David, and what our Lord Jesus Christ has shown us, so that we do not think it strange if we are fashioned to his image. For here we see the conditions under which God has grafted us into the body of his son, so that he is the general patron of all the faithful, as the apostle Paul declares in the eighth of Romans.

Romans 8v12 – 17 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation – but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die: but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of son ship. And by him we cry “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now, if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co – heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

It should be noted that the apostle Paul states that partaking in the sufferings of Christ is an integral part of the Christian faith.

Let us now consider what is imported when Job’s wife says ‘Do you still hold to your singleness?’ She is asking, ‘What do you gain by serving God? For your intent in serving him has been that he should support you and look favourably upon you and that he should have shown by his works towards you that he is your father. Now you see that he is an enemy and that he is persecuting you. Therefore, your soundness does not profit you at all.’ Consider her conclusion when she says ‘curse God and die.’ We detest blasphemy against God. It is something that ought not even to be named. We understand that to grudge against God, or to spite him, or to cast forth any words that dishonour him is so detestable that we must shudder and quake at it. When the apostle Paul speaks against very great evils, he says ‘let them not be named among you.’

Ephesians 5v11,12 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.

The statement ‘curse God and die’ may therefore be taken to mean ‘provoke the Lord to anger and then you shall die for it. You may revenge yourself upon him once before you die, since you see well enough that he has deceived you and that you will die anyway.’

It is not to be doubted that this woman was an instrument of Satan. It is not to be marvelled at that she is a she – devil, or a fiend of hell, sent to set Job to lift himself up against God and to rush against his majesty.

There are two ways in which we could lift ourselves up against God. Firstly, our faith may be shaken for a time. But we know that although our faith may be shaken, it will never be destroyed. There may be fluctuations within our faith, but with respect to the ultimate objective, faith is final. When we believe, we believe once and for all and we are sealed in the number of God’s faithful. Anyone who truly believes knows that. The other way that we can lift ourselves up beyond our bounds is that when we hear such blasphemy, we are rightly angry against it, but unless we are careful, our anger may lead us beyond reasonable bounds.

There is another way in which the statement by Job’s wife may be taken, since the Hebrew uses the same word for ‘praise’ as ‘curse’. The sentence may be taken ‘Praise God and die’, meaning ‘Continue to praise God as much as you like. But when you are through with it, you shall have gained absolutely nothing by it; it is lost labour. You are destined to die; it is fully determined that it shall be so. You see that God has not heeded your prayers. Whether you glorify him or not, it is all one. You have spun a fair thread in humbling yourself before God, but do not expect God to heed you; do not expect his wrath to be assuaged. He has forsaken you and you will die.’ Death here means a spiritual death.

Either way, the sense leads to the same point. The first point is that the target of Job’s wife was to drive Job to despair, to the end that he should fret and chafe against God, that he should lose his whole understanding and instead of praising God as he had done before, he should provoke God to wrath.

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