You may be familiar with the phrase, ‘to stick one’s foot in one’s mouth’ or more modernly ‘open mouth, insert foot.’ As a teenager, I had a best friend to whom I would endearingly say, ‘open mouth, switch feet.’
Job’s wife got a bad case of foot in mouth disease and the poor woman has paid for it ever since.
During sermons, you may have heard the speakers make such comments as, ‘I don’t know why nothing happened to her.’ Really? Nothing happened to her?
I’d like to give you four reasons why we should not judge Job’s wife so harshly.
- She lost everything Job lost
We focus so much on the great lost sustained by Job—his livestock, servants, and children all killed. Do we forget that Job’s wife lost all those same things, too? She lost her children! Her 10 children that she had birthed, suckled, and mostly likely loved very much. I don’t know about you, but if I lost even one child, the grief would be unbearable. (My heart goes out to any of you who have lost a child before or after birth.)
And yet, if we look at verses 20 and 21 of chapter 1, it says, ‘Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, 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.’
I don’t see where Job’s wife complained or said anything here. We’re not even told whether she was there with him. It was only after watching her husband, him sitting in ashes and scraping boils with a shard of pottery that the poor woman opened her mouth. Her heart was breaking. Not only had they lost their children and their wealth, but now she watches her husband in agony. She must have been near the breaking point.
In chapter 2, verses 9 and 10, ‘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?’
This woman spoke out of a heart of grief and yes, she put her foot in her mouth as we see in her husband’s comment ‘though speakest as one of the foolish women.’
- She was an innocent bystander.
In chapter 1, verses 8- 12, ‘And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, 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. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So, Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.’
This whole thing was between God, Satan, and Job. Both God and Satan were trying to prove a point and Job’s wife got caught in the crosshairs. We don’t know much about her. It seems people jump to the conclusion due to her statement ‘curse God and die’ that she was an ungodly woman. And yet, we don’t see Job offering a sacrifice for her, just for his children.
In chapter 1, verses 4 and 5, ‘And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.’
He didn’t seem concerned that his wife might curse God in her heart. Could she have been kneeling alongside him, beseeching God for her childrens’ sake?
- God didn’t rebuke her.
Throughout the latter part of the book, we see God having a very stern conversation with his servant Job.
Chapter 38, verses 1-3 ‘Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who [is] this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.’
At the end of this conversation we see Job’s response in chapter 42, verses 1-6, ‘Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who [is] he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.’
Sounds like a rebuke to me. And Job repented.
In chapter 42 verses 7 and 8, ‘And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.’
So, God rebukes the 3 friends and they repent.
I don’t see a rebuke for Job’s wife. Do you? Hmmm…
If God didn’t judge her. Should we?
And last, but not least.
- God blessed her with 10 more children.
Chapter 42, verses 10, 13- 15, ‘And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before…He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch. And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren.’
If Job’s wife was such an ungodly woman, why didn’t God kill her and give him a new wife? A better wife? A godly wife? Seems to me, he had the same wife in chapter 42 that he had in chapter 1. So, God allowed his wife to bear 10 more children and her daughters were the most beautiful woman in all the land.
Hopefully, this has made you think a little. Let’s try to give people the benefit of the doubt and not judge motivations and actions so harsh. We never know what people are going through. Sometimes people will fly off the handle or as in this case put their foot in their mouth, but just as God does with us, let us willingly grant others mercy and grace.
I will finish with these lyrics from a song sung by Mark Gray.
Just say a prayer. A prayer for Job’s wife.
But by the grace of God such heartache could enter your life.
Don’t judge her too harshly till you’ve known her strife.
Just say a prayer. Thank God you’re not there.
With the care of Job’s wife.
For more on this point of view, read this article. http://www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/2011/may/mostmisunderstood.html?start=2