Vol. 12 No. 3 March 2010
By Bonnie Rushmore
A study of Mrs. Job must involve a look at those close to her life and the complete context of the verses surrounding references to her in the Bible. Thus, even though Mrs. Job is not mentioned until Chapter Two of the Book of Job, we will gather some background information from Chapter One.
We find in the opening verses of the book that Job “…was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job 1:1). Job was blessed with seven sons and three daughters (Job 1:2). Furthermore, Job was a rich man, owning seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys and a very great household (Job 1:3). He was considered the greatest of all the men of the east.
Satan challenged God stating, “…Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face” (Job 1:9-11). Knowing Job would withstand the test, God accepted the challenge, telling Satan to do as he wished with Job with one exception. Satan was not allowed to touch or harm the physical body of Job (Job 1:12).
A messenger rushed to Job, telling him that thieves stole all his oxen and donkeys, and the servants tending the animals were killed. Before this messenger finished speaking, another man rushed in explaining that fire from heaven consumed all the sheep and the servants watching over them. While this man was speaking, another messenger came proclaiming robbers stole all the camels, and those servants were killed. Then, the most heart wrenching message of all was delivered. Job’s children were killed when a great wind blew the house down, killing all of them (Job 1:14-19).
Job did not react as Satan planned. “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped” (Job 1:20). Job showed his grief by tearing his coat and shaving his head. Then, he worshipped his God stating, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). Through all that Job lost, he did not blame God.
However, Satan was not finished. He again challenged God. “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face” (Job 2:4-5). God replied to Satan, “Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life” (Job 2:6).
Satan afflicted Job with severe boils from the top of his head to the bottoms of his feet. Job’s response was to sit in ashes and scrape the sores with broken pottery (Job 2:7-8). Once again, Job did not blame God for his afflictions. However, Satan had one more trick up his sleeve.
“Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. 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.”
Satan chose not to take Job’s wife from him for a reason. He had plans for her. She was used to further tempt Job to renounce God.
According to New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, several kinds of boils are mentioned in the Bible. Job was probably inflicted with “Simple boils, which may be single or come out in large numbers and successive crops (Job 2:7; NIV, ‘sores’), causing much suffering and some danger to the patient. They consist of a core, which is a gangrenous bit of skin and subcutaneous tissue, surrounded by an angry, inflamed and suppurating nodule, which finally bursts and lets out the core, after which the seat of the boil heals, leaving a permanent scar.” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia explains the full extent of this disease inflicted upon Job. “Job's body is said to have been covered with itchy, irritating sores which made his face unrecognizable (Job 2:12), caused continual burning pain (3:24; 6:4), and which were infested with maggots (7:5) and exhaled a nauseous fetor (19:17). His sleep was destroyed and his nervous system enfeebled (3:26) so that he required assistance to move, as he sat in the ashes (2:8).”
Mrs. Job lost all her wealth in the course of a few hours. The same day, she lost all ten of her children in a sudden catastrophic windstorm. Then, she was subjected to watch her husband physically suffer extreme pain and agony, and she experienced as well as the emotional pain of losing their great wealth. In essence, she lost her husband, too, and Satan seized this moment to tempt her and use her against her husband. Mrs. Job admonished her husband to “curse God and die.” Fortunately, Job’s faith in God was strong. He lovingly rebuked his wife for her foolish words. He explained that if they accept the blessings from God, then, they must be willing to receive the afflictions, also. Job did not curse God!
“My breath is strange to my wife, though I intreated for the children’s sake of mine own body.”
The exact length of time that elapsed after Mrs. Job encouraged Job to renounce God is unknown. In the previous chapters, we find a lengthy discussion with Job and his three friends who supposedly came to comfort him. Eventually, their conversations turned to accusations rather than words of comfort. Chapter Nineteen begins with Job offering complaints toward his friends and others with whom he has had recent contact. Among those individuals was his wife. Job’s breath had become so offensive due to his physical condition that even his wife turned away when he spoke to her. Albert Barnes made the following observation about the relationship of Mrs. Job and her husband:
I appealed to her by all that was tender in the domestic relation, but in vain. From this it would seem that even his wife had regarded him as an object of divine displeasure and had also left him to suffer alone…the appeal to his wife was founded on the relation which they had sustained to them. Though they were now dead, he referred to their former united attachment to them, to the common affliction which they had experienced in their loss; and in view of all their former love to them, and all the sorrow which they had experienced in their death, he made an appeal to his wife to show him kindness, but in vain.
Apparently, Job pleaded with her to come to him, reminding her of the love they shared in the birth of their children and the pain they jointly suffered in the death of those children. Since there is no other mention of her attention toward him, his pleading must have fallen on deaf ears. Satan was still using Mrs. Job. She progressed from a tempter in Chapter Two to a tormentor in Chapter 19.
“Then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her.”
In Chapter 29, Job listed the great blessings bestowed upon him by God. Chapter 30 lists the great afflictions Job suffered. Job used Chapter 31 to emphatically demonstrate his conviction of his innocence and that sin was not the cause of those afflictions. Albert Barnes made this observation:
Let her be subjected to the deepest humiliation and degradation. Probably Job could not have found language which would have more emphatically expressed his sense of the enormity of this crime, or his perfect consciousness of innocence. The last thing which a man would imprecate on himself, would be that which is specified in this verse. The word “grind” … means to crush, to beat small; then to grind, as in a handmill; Judg 16:21; Num 11:8. This was usually the work of females and slaves…The meaning here is, “Let my wife be the mill-wench to another; be his abject slave, and be treated by him with the deepest indignity.”
Job was not suggesting that his wife be harshly punished; rather, he was referring to the severe humiliation both he and his wife would endure after such an honorable position in life as outlined in Chapter 29. Mrs. Job tempted her husband to sin by encouraging him to “curse God and die.” She became his tormentor when she failed to comfort him and did not allow him to comfort her in the loss of their children, possessions and place of honor in society. Through all of this, Job still showed love and kindness toward his wife.
Satan is the most cunning tempter since the days of creation, and he uses others to assist him in pulling God’s children into sin. After Satan lured Eve to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he used her to tempt Adam to sin also (Genesis 3). Abraham encouraged Sarah to sin in stating that she was his sister rather than his wife (Genesis 12:13; 20:13). Ananias tempted Sapphira to sin when they lied about the purchase price for the land they sold (Acts 5:1-10). Sin and temptation have existed almost from the beginning of time. Mrs. Job was one of many individuals Satan used to lure others to him.
Mrs. Job lost everything—her children, her possessions, her position in the community, and in a sense, she lost her husband as he sat in ashes, riddled with pain. Satan saw her vulnerability and used it to his advantage. He caused her to doubt God, and in turn, she encouraged Job to “curse God and die.” Why would Mrs. Job’s suggest such a thing to her husband? Perhaps, watching him suffer brought her great pain, and she wanted to ease his suffering as well as her own suffering. Possibly, like Job’s three friends, she thought Job had sinned, and by cursing God, he would end the charade of being a righteous servant of God. In reality, we do not know why a loving wife would suggest that her husband “curse God and die.” The reason is not important. What we must learn from this biblical example is that Satan will use any opportunity available to persuade us to sin.
Just as Satan enticed Mrs. Job at her weakest moment, he is watching to pounce on us at our weakest moments. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:9). We must guard our thoughts and our reactions to the difficult situations that affect us.
The trials of this life can pull us closer to God or they can turn us away from God. The choice is ours. “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12-13). Remember the words of Paul, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13). Peter penned, “the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:9).
Most Christians can resist the stranger that tempts them to sin. However, when our close friends and family members become Satan’s tempters, our guard is down, and we fall into the devil’s snare.
Are you a Mrs. Job? Are you a tempter to your loved ones, a tool in Satan’s arsenal, seeking to draw God’s children away?
A tormentor is one who inflicts pain and agony on another. This infliction may be physical or mental, and in modern times is called bullying. Not only was Mrs. Job a tempter to her husband, she was also his tormentor. Her lack of compassion toward him brought great mental anguish (Job 19:17). At a time when comfort was needed, she turned away, ignoring his pleas for compassion.
As one endures the afflictions of this world, our family members may be our source of comfort or they may react like Mrs. Job and become our tormentors. This may be because they, too, are suffering and are unable to offer compassion to us.
A Christ-like attitude offers compassion, kindness and comfort to those who are suffering. We are to show kindness to one another (Ephesians 5:32). We are to “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering” (Colossians 3:12). A compassionate person will help those in need (1 John 3:17).
Are you a Mrs. Job? Do you add insult to injury when a loved one is suffering? Jesus said, “…Get thee behind me, Satan…” when He was tempted by the devil (Luke 4:8). Let us become Christ-like as we resist the devil and offer comfort and compassion on those in need.
At some time in our lives, each one of us will face difficult heartbreaking situations. The cause may result from sin in our life, or it may be caused by sin in another person’s life. These situations will try us—they will test our faith in God. As husband and wife, we need to lean on one another and God for strength to endure. Mrs. Job failed this test. Instead of gaining strength from each other as they suffered the loss of their children, possessions and Job’s health, she turned her back on Job.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). God is our strength and comfort, and we use this strength to comfort our loved ones.
Among the greatest tolls on a marriage are the tragedies that may come. If husband and wife do not confront these with a united effort, comforting each other, hurt and despair often will drive a wedge between the two. When this happens, it is difficult to repair the marriage into a loving home once again. When tragedies come, turn to God and one another for strength.
Are you a Mrs. Job? Do you turn away from those hurting and in need?
Job never condemned his wife for her behavior. When he spoke of her, he lovingly encouraged her to change her attitude. The last chapter of Job ends with God restoring to Job all that he lost. His possessions were doubled, and he was blessed with seven more sons and three more daughters (Job 42:10-17). Some commentators suggest that the second set of children is to a second wife since the last mention of Mrs. Job interacting with Job is 19:17 when she encouraged him to “curse God and die.” This is an example of God choosing to leave out the details that are unnecessary to our understanding of these passages (Deuteronomy 29:29; 2 Peter 1:3).
I like to think that Job’s kindness and encouragement to his wife helped her change her attitude, and she returned to a loving relationship with God and her husband. Job’s reference to his wife in 31:10 certainly shows a love and concern for her. What better example of a kind word turning away wrath (Proverbs 15:1) than that exhibited by Job toward his wife.
Mr. and Mrs. Job suffered great calamities in their lives. One turned to God for strength, and the other allowed Satan to overtake her and use her against Job. While we may sympathize with Mrs. Job, we cannot condone her behavior. Mrs. Job is a character that we should not emulate, but from whom we can learn what not to do in a similar situation.