Job 2:9


I. THE WIFE'S TEMPTATION.

1. Its source. Job is now tempted by his own wile - by her who is nearest to him, and who should be almost his second self. Chrysostom asks, "Why did the devil leave him his wife?' and replies, "Because he thought her a good scourge by which to plague him more acutely than by any other means." Certainly the temptation which comes through one whom we love is the most powerful. Christ met the tempter in a favourite disciple. It is the duty of love not simply to sympathize, but also to give good counsel; it is its error only to show sympathy by aggravating the evil tendencies of a trouble.

2. Its excuse. Men have been too hard on Job's wife for this one foolish saying of hers, forgetting how huge was her affliction. Indeed, a great injustice has been done her, and while sympathy and admiration have been lavished on the husband, the partner in distress has scarcely received a glance of pity. But his troubles were her troubles. She had been in affluence, the happy mother of a happy family. Now she is plunged into poverty and misery, bereft of her children, with her once honoured husband in disease and corruption. Is it wonderful that she should utter one hasty, impatient word?

3. Its point. We cannot say that Job's wife urged him to curse God; for she my have meant, "renounce God." At all events, let him give up the struggle and commit suicide. It is the Stoic's advice. Others since have advised euthanasia in unbearable sufferings. It needed a brave heart to resist such an appeal. Only those who have been plunged into the lowest depth know the fearful inducement to despair of life and go -

"Anywhere, anywhere, out of the world."

II. THE HUSBAND'S REPLY.

1. Its reprimand. Job quietly tells his wife that she is talking like one of the foolish or ungodly women.

(1) There is patience in this reprimand; he does not angrily repudiate her hasty advice.

(2) It is discriminating. Job sees at ones the defect. His wife has forsaken her higher plane of living, and fallen down to conventional ideas of the world. There was this excuse for her, however, that her conduct was not without precedent, though the precedent was not worthy to be followed.

(3) It is generous. Job delicately hints that her words are unworthy of her. He implies that she is not herself one of the foolish women. Often the best and most effective reprimand is an appeal to a person's self-respect.

2. Its resignation.

(1) It recognizes God as the Source of all things. Job does not seem to be aware that Satan has a hand in his calamities. He attributes them wholly to God. Thus he fails to see one side of the dread mystery of iniquity. Yet there was truth in what he said. Nothing happens but by God's permission.

(2) It admits the justice of God's dealing. How fair is Job! And how unfair are many men in accepting boundless mercies without a thought of gratitude, and then shrieking with rage at the first twinge of adversity! If we struck the balance between our blessings and our troubles, should we not find the former vastly outweighing the latter? And if we accept the blessings from God, should we not be prepared to take the reverse of them also?

3. Its self-restraint. "In all this did not Job sin with his lips." It is uncharitable of the Targum to add, "But in his thoughts he already cherished sinful words." If thoughts of rebellion were beginning to rise - and Job was but mortal - the brave man silenced them. It is much to learn how to "be still." - W.F.A.









Curse God and die.
She only comes on the scene to heighten for one moment the intensity of her husband's desolation and misery. "Renounce," she says, "God and die." "Leave the unprofitable service of this God, who has left thee to so undeserved a fate. Leave Him and quit life, a life that has nothing left worth living for." It seems hard indeed, hard above all to those who have known the blessings of an English and a Christian home, that such a sneer and such advice should come from such a quarter. It pains us, as with an unwelcome shock. Let me recall to you that when, some sixty years ago, the poet-painter William Blake drew some wonderfully powerful illustrations to the Book of Job, he, the English husband of a loyal and affectionate wife, refused to follow the course of the story in this terrible detail. All the rest he could portray, step by step; but here he stayed his hand, and those who can turn to his much-prized drawings will see Job's wife vindicated against the scorn of centuries, kneeling beside her husband, and sharing his patient misery. They will see her still by his side, through each and all of his future pangs and agonies, and restored with him to a common happiness in the closing scene. There was something in the record of Job's sufferings too keen and bitter, too remote, may we not thankfully say, from the experience of English and Christian married life, for that sensitive and gifted spirit, so often on the borderland where genius touches madness, to bear to reproduce. And it might well be so. "Curse God and die," she said. The depths of human misery seemed sounded. How many human souls might, in one way or another, have lent an ear to the suggestion. A Roman might have turned upon his unjust gods and died by his own hand, like Care, with words of defiance on his lips. Others might have sought the same fate in dull despair. Not so Job.

(Dean Bradley.)

Some have spoken very strongly about Job's wife. She has been called a helper of the devil, an organ of Satan, an infernal fury. thinks that the enemy left her alive because he deemed her a fit scourge to Job by which to plague him more acutely than by any other. Ewald, with more point, says, "Nothing can be more scornful than her words, which mean, Thou, who under all the undeserved sufferings which have been inflicted on thee by thy God, hast been faithful to Him even in fatal sickness, as if He would help or desired to help thee who art beyond help, — to thee, fool, I say, bid God farewell, and die!" There can be no doubt that she appears as the temptress of her husband, putting into speech the atheistic doubt which the adversary could not directly suggest. Brave and true life appears to her to profit nothing if it has to be spent in pain and desolation. She does not seem to speak so much in scorn as in the bitterness of her soul. She is no infernal fury, but one whose love, genuine enough, does not enter into the fellowship of his sufferings.

(R. A. Watson, D. D.)

Sorrow and pain work a ferment in the soul that is terrible. Our theme is the folly and wickedness of impeaching God.

1. The folly of impeaching the justice, wisdom, or love of God. Think of human ignorance. Compared with the material or brute creation man is great, but not great when compared with his Maker. Sydney Smith satirically described Lord Jeffrey as dissatisfied with the Almighty in the construction of the solar system, particularly as to the rings of Saturn. Men nowadays do soberly set up their judgment in opposition to the will and wisdom of God. They know but part, yet talk as if they understood the Almighty to perfection.

2. The guilt of such a course is equally great. It is a practical repudiation of the authority of God, who commands us to be patient and obedient. It is akin to the dreadful sin of blasphemy, an act that under no circumstances can ever be tolerated.

(C. H. Buckley, D. D.)

Job's wife is typical of a class of persons that has always existed in the world. Such persons lose sight of all that is bright in life, hem themselves in with the blackest gloom, seek a path only in the darkness where no star shines, allow distrust to take entire possession of their souls, and hatred to reign supreme in the domain of their affections, and then end their career like Pope's reprobate knight, of whom the poet says, "And sad Sir Balaam curses God and dies." In human life we often meet with persons whose gloomy minds throw a shadow on everything with which they come into contact. We protest against pessimism as being false in theory, and impossible in practice. Even dark things have a bright side, which can be seen if looked for in a proper spirit.

I. THE CAUSES OF DESPAIR.

1. False views of God. A man's theology very largely influences his life. Spiritual ideas are at the root of all others. Whatever a man thinks of God and religion, will largely mould his character. Despair arises from two causes: the pessimism of men who are opponents of God, haters of God; and the hard, encrusted, stern, unbending Calvinism, which professes to be overpowered by God's love, which love is, however, always limited to those holding the doctrine. The pessimistic raving is indicative of a despair which has taken a fixed and settled position in the soul. Hope has fled, and all the brightness, even to the last spark, has departed from life.

2. Misanthropic notions respecting the human race. The loss of faith in our fellow men is a prolific cause of despair. We place confidence in men, and we are betrayed; we trust them, and they deceive us. So we lose faith in mankind: we sink into a condition of sullen moroseness, which is but the forerunner of despair.

3. Denial of God's existence. Atheism is a gloomy creed. To take away God is to deprive the world of hope, to rob it of its highest consolation, and consequently to plunge the human race into the blackest despair.

II. THE FOLLY OF DESPAIR.

1. It shuts out of view possible changes for the better. The clouds encompass us, the darkness hems us in, we see no light, and we lose hope, never dreaming that behind the mists a sun is shining, which will sooner or later dispel the gloom and illumine the world with its beams.

2. It injures the soul. Like all evil passions, it grows with what it feeds on.

3. It is a rebellion against God. Evil is not the universe. Goodness is eternal. God lives, and His mercy fails not. Despair is rank blasphemy against heaven.

III. THE REMEDY FOR DESPAIR. It is the religion of Jesus, with the great and eternal truth which it enunciates — God is love. Recognising the fact that there is a God, and that His mercy is over all that His hands have made, how can we ever despair? We know that we are in His hands, and that therefore we are sure. Let us then leave the demon of despair to atheists, and those who have neither faith in God nor confidence in man, but for ourselves we must cling to the eternal truth that God is love.

(George Sexton, M. A. , LL. D.)

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