How do you react when tragedy hits? Do you turn to God for help or do you reject Him and blame Him for what happened?
Having 42 chapters, Job is one of the longer books in the Bible. Entire chapters are dedicated to advice from Job’s friends, Job’s response to his friends, and Job’s conversations with the Lord. Only four verses, however, make mention of Job’s wife. And though we’re told the names of his friends and even his daughters, his wife remains nameless. What does this tell us?
The book of Job opens by introducing us to Job and his current situation.
“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. Also, his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very large household, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East.”
We learn about his camels and donkeys, but no mention of his wife. Of course, we can assume since he had children, that he had a wife, but just like with Lot’s wife, she’s only mentioned when the action revolves around her.
We don’t meet Job’s wife until chapter 2 verse 9. By this point, Satan has met with God and received permission to test Job’s character. Satan takes away Job’s livestock and most of his servants and kills his sons and daughters.
Job responds to the tragedies with:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Job tears his robe, shaves his head, falls to the ground, and worships the Lord.
Then Satan attacks Job’s body, giving him painful boils from top of his head to the soles of his feet. Job merely scratches his sores with a piece of broken pottery while he sits in ashes.
It’s at this point in the story that Job’s wife steps onto the stage. Keep in mind that she, too, has lost her family, possessions, and status. She’s gone from being mother of seven and wife of the wealthiest man in the east, to being grieving mother and wife of a pathetic man who spends his days in ashes scratching himself with a piece of broken pottery. This was not the life she signed up for.
She says to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
Those are the only recorded words we have for her. From that point on, the Bible shares Job’s words about the situation, advice from his friends, and his conversations with God.
In chapter 19 verse 17 Job references his wife by saying that his breath repulses his wife and he’s rejected by his family.
In chapter 31 verse 9 he says that if he is guilty of sin with another woman then let his wife have relations with another man.
The book of Job concludes with a list of how God blessed Job, giving him even more than he had before. Chapter 42 verse 12 lists the new livestock numbers. The next verses tell us he had 7 more sons and 3 more daughters and even tells us the names of the daughters, that they were the most beautiful women in the land, and Job gave them an inheritance along with their brothers. We can assume his wife was the mother of those children, but no mention is made of her.
The Rest of the Story
I don’t know about you, but I find the story of Job’s wife to be particularly sad. Married to this amazing man, and yet the only recorded words we have from her are words of complaint!
“Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
What can we learn from these few words we have from her?
First, she’s questioning his virtue. Is he really as innocent as he says he is? Did he bring all this on himself? This was a common belief of the time. People assumed that sickness, death, or tragedy was God punishing them for their sins.
But she’s married to Job. She knows better than anyone his innocence.
Maybe she’s questioning his faith. Does she not share his level of faith? Is she a fair weather believer? Does she question what kind of God would allow His people to suffer so?
Maybe she’s just really angry. She’s suffered as well as him. She’s lost everything. Does she blame God for all that’s happened to them? When she tells him to curse God and die, does she want him to die so that she can be free from him and get away from his God and start a new life?
We’ll never know the answer to these questions. We can assume, though, that her motives were not good. She did not have a pure heart or else God would have not made such a point to practically exclude her from the account.
Then the reference to Job’s breath in chapter 19. How sad that in the midst of his suffering, he had to deal with his wife pointing out his bad breath. More evidence of her pettiness and lack of sympathy.
It’s interesting in chapter 31 that he talks about how painful it would be if his wife were unfaithful to him. So even though she mocked him and insulted him, he still loved her and remained faithful to her.
And then the end of the story, when God restored Job’s fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before, we learn that his brothers and sisters and everyone who knew him comforted him and gave him a silver coin and a gold ring. We learn how many sheep and camels and oxen and donkeys he had. We’re told he had 7 sons and 3 daughters. We’re even given the daughters’ names. We’re told he went on to live an additional one hundred and forty years, living to see his children and grandchildren to the fourth generation, but no mention whatsoever of his wife.
Wouldn’t it have been nice to have a little footnote that his wife had a change of heart and was a blessing to her husband all the days of his life? We can assume that since no mention was made of a change, that she continued in her path of bitterness and complaint despite the restoration of their fortunes.
I hope this is a story that you have a hard time connecting with, but I’m afraid, at some point and time, we’ve all been like Job’s wife. When we’re hurting, we so easily lash out and attack the very ones we love the most.
But here’s the deal. We don’t have to dwell in the land of bitterness. If we find ourselves hanging out there, we need to flee away from there and head straight into the arms of our Lord.
Job shows us that being a believer doesn’t protect us from harm. However, whatever we go through will be so much better if we don’t have to go through it alone. If we reject the anger and fear and place our trust in Him, He will see us through victorious on the other side.
In these current days, we’re all going through unexpected situations that we didn’t plan for. Whether it’s disease, death, destruction, or destitution, we each make a choice each day of how we’re going to deal with it. Will we lash out in fear, alienating ourselves from those who should be our allies, or will we draw together as we draw nearer to the only one who is bigger than anything the enemy can send our way?
My first response is to be critical of Job’s Wife. Then I look at her circumstances. She went from a woman on top of the world who had everything, and was reduced to the wife of a pathetic man with no hope for the future. She lost her fortune, her family, her frame of life. No wonder she was angry and bitter.
However, the book of Job closes by letting us know God blessed him with twice what he’d had before. More wealth and more children. God kept Job’s wife in the picture. He blessed her future along with Job’s. Though she failed, God was still there for her.
God understands our fears. He feels our sadness. He sympathizes with our struggles. But He sees the future, and He knows that what we are going through is only temporary. Job understood that. His wife didn’t. What about you? Are you trusting Him to see you through both the good times and the bad?
Lord God, thank You for this reminder of how important it is for us to keep our eyes on You rather than on our circumstances. Thank You for loving us through the good days as well as the bad days. Forgive us those times that we lose sight of You and become bitter and hateful to those around us. Open our eyes so that we might see ourselves as we are and not be fooled into thinking that we are better than we are. Help us to be a helpmeet to our husbands rather than a hindrance. Help us to lift up those around us rather than dragging them down. May we reflect Your love at all times. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
That concludes today’s episode of All God’s Women. Join us next week when we look at Isaiah’s Daughters of Zion.
Backstory – Job 1:1-22, 2:11-8
Her Story – Job 2:9, 19:17,
The Rest of the Story – Job 31:9
Bible Study Review
- What all did Job’s wife lose?
- What was her advice to Job?
- How did Job respond to her bad advice?
Thoughts to Ponder
- Why is Job’s wife barely mentioned?
- What was their marriage like?
- How did Job feel about her?
- How are you like Job’s wife?
- When misfortune hits, do you take it out on those around you?
- Do you praise God in the bad times as well as the good?
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