This Week’s Focus Passage: Job 2:9 ‘Dost thou still hold fast thy integrity? Renounce God, and die.
This Week’s Focus Passage: Job 2:9
‘Dost thou still hold fast thy integrity? Renounce God, and die.’
This has been, we imagine, a perennial problem among theologians and writers of commentaries, to explain or determine, with any good reason, just what the status, or spiritual climate of Job’s wife was. It is more than remarkable that Satan left her to Job after virtually taking everything else away from him. We must concede our own grasp, or lack thereof, of the ‘why’ of her being left behind. We numbered ourselves among those that presumed that it was the wiles of the ‘evil one,’ to leave her as a snare to the integrity of the patriarch, Job.
And yet, he did indeed spare her; going on his determined and brutal way, attacking the body of his woeful target, smiting Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown, bringing him under unspeakable and distressing pain. We read that he took him a potsherd to scrape himself therewith; and he sat among the ashes. It was, evidently, upon her viewing all this monstrous assault upon her husband, that she speaks, and says to him, these fearful words, Dost thou still hold fast thy integrity? Renounce God and die. What may we conclude from this other than, that Satan had left her unmolested so that he could use her to undermine Job’s integrity, and bring him to prove that Satan’s charge against him was correct, when he had said to God, in response to God’s inquiry, in 1:8, Hast thou considered my servant Job? for there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and turneth away from evil. We may freely suppose that such an assertion from God, put to this former angel, who became so bold as to approach God with this challenge. The only comparable instance, that comes to our thoughts, is the Temptation of Christ, as recorded in the Synoptic Gospels. In both cases, Satan was challenging God, was he not? And we are of the happy opinion that the devil lost both challenges.
To return to Job and his wife, and their ‘conflict’ with Satan, if we may put it that way. It does appear, on the surface, at least, that Satan intended to use Job’s hapless wife as a tool in his tool kit to prove himself correct with regard to the patriarch of Uz; to tempt him to give up his integrity.
There are differing opinions and views of the matter about Job’s wife, to be found among commentators, we wish to consider two time-honored representatives of this description; one referred to as a ‘non-conformist, yet connected with the Anglican church, which is to be found in England, of course. The other commentator was a Baptist, who would likely be best referred to also as a non-conformist. They each involved conformity, or non-conformity in any given age. The two whose views we wish to solicit were each active in laboring in the Christian church within fifty years of each other; circa 18th century.
Matthew Henry would, chronologically, be previous to John Gill, by some thirty-five years. From a deliberately brief biography of Matthew Henry, by editors of the Banner of Truth publications staff, we may learn, that “Matthew Henry was born at Broad Oak, Flintshire, in October, 1662, into the godly home of Philip and Katherine Henry, less than two months after his father was ejected under the Act of Uniformity from ministry in the Church of England. He had one brother, John, who died at the age of six, and four sisters, Sarah (the oldest), Katherine, Eleanor, and Ann (the youngest). When three years old it is said that he could read the Bible distinctly, and he early showed a strong passion for books. He was educated primarily by his father, with the assistance of tutors.
Regarding a notice of John Gill, we are informed that “The witness and teaching of John Gill (1697-1771) so impressed his friends Augustus Toplady and James Hervey that they maintained his work would still be of great importance to future generations. This also became the conviction of John Rippon (1750-1836) and Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), Gill’s more well-known successors to his pastorate, but it was also the testimony of those who served for shorter periods at Carter Lane such as John Martin, Benjamin Francis and John Fawcett. The witness of these faithful men of God has helped point generations to Gill’s works which have subsequently enriched their lives.”
Let us then, proceed to determine their somewhat dissenting viewpoints as to their thoughts and opinions regarding the wife of Job, particularly her vehement response through which see called, at least in our initial view, upon her husband to give up his integrity, by which we gather she intended him to give up his religion; after all, she charged him to ‘renounce God, and die.’
Henry’s evaluation of Job’s wife; the temptation she presented, is: “Satan urges him, by the persuasions of his own wife, to curse God, v.9. The Jews (who covet much to be wise above what is written) say that Job’s wife was Dinah, Jacob’s daughter: so the Chaldee paraphrase. It is not likely that she was; but, whoever it was, she was to him like Michal to David, a scoffer at his piety. She was spared to him, when the rest of his comforts were taken away, for this purpose, to be a troubler and tempter to him. If Satan leaves any thing that he has permission to take away, it is with a design of mischief. It is his policy to send his temptations by the hand of those that are dear to us, as he tempted Adam by Eve and Christ by Peter.”
Gill, on the other hand, ‘cuts her some slack,’ as the expression goes. He has written, in his commentary on Job, after seemingly copying Henry with regard to the Jewish belief that she was Dinah, “Job had but one wife, and very probably she is the same that after all this bore him ten children more; since we never read of her death, nor of his having any other wife, and might be a good woman for any thing that appears to the contrary; and Job himself seems to intimate the same, though she was in the dark about this providence, and under a sore temptation on that account; and therefore says to her husband, dost thou still retain thine integrity? not as blaming him for insisting and leaning upon his integrity, and justifying, and not humbling himself before God; when he should rather confess his sins and prepare for death.”
Why should it surprise us, when we struggle to account for these things; encouraging, negatively yes; but encouraging, none the less, to continue reading and looking to discover other possibilities for Job and his wife. We must be most careful not to set aside, in particular, the truth that Gill brings out, that after all has been said and done, we subsequently find in the conclusion of the book, that Job was blessed.
So Jehovah blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: and he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters…….and after this Job lived a hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his son’s sons, even four generations.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, and unnumbered more beside.
David Farmer, elder
Fellowship Bible Church
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