BEING MISUNDERSTOOD

Being misunderstood

By: Gary L. Rodgers

(All scripture notations are taken from the KJV unless noted otherwise)

Have you ever said or done something that was taken wrong by another person? Your thoughts and words were headed in one direction while their ears and mind were receiving it in a different way. It happens doesn’t it?

I was listening to an evangelist deliver a message on the radio and he hit on something that sparked an interest in me. He touched on a person in scripture that he believed was terribly misunderstood and I must say that as I studied this for myself that it became a real eye opener for me.

From what we have all read and been taught in scripture it took but one word to cause such confusion. Unfortunately not only was this person misunderstood but they were labeled in an unfavorable light by multiple scores of people down through the centuries. And it comes as no surprise as to why.

But before I divulge the identity of this person I would like to quickly skim over the first chapter of the book of Job before getting into chapter two where my point of reference lies.

  • The Bible says that Job was a perfect and upright man, one that feared God and shunned away from, turned aside from, or departed from evil.
  • He had a large family of 7 sons and 3 daughters.
  • He prayed daily for his family for fear that one of his children may have sinned by cursing GOD in their heart.
  • Then we find that Satan comes into the picture and Job is about to be tested for his faith and his integrity.

As you read on you will find that this true man of God lost everything he had in one horrific day. He lost all of his wealth, his servants, his cattle and his children, all in one day. Keep in mind that as you read this story that Job had no idea of what transpired up in Heaven between God and Satan. He had no idea that God would allow the evil one to touch him and bring such misery upon him.

Yet we find that in all of this confusion and misery that Job humbled himself before the LORD and bowed down and worshipped him and in verse 21 we find those marvelous words. “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. How many of us would find it hard to say these words in the midst of a real hardship?

In the first chapter of Job we see the true character of this righteous man when he says; “blessed be the name of the LORD.”  And in verse 22 it says that “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

One thing certain is that Job could not have ever spoken those words unless his true affection and dedication was to God.

Not only had Job lost all of his wealth, his servants, and all of his children. There was someone else who faced these same trials with him. The one person that still remained whom he did not lose was his wife. Have you ever given any thought as to why that was? Some would have us to believe that she was Job’s cross to bear. Yet for the most part she silently wades through these deep waters of hardship with only having spoken but a few words. And the few words that she spoke had brought the eye of reproach upon her from so many.

PROTECTION UNDER THE ONE FLESH UNITY

So why was she there to suffer along with Job? In verse 5 of chapter 2 we find these words, “touch now his bone and his flesh and he will curse thee to thy face.” And how did GOD respond to Satan in verse 6 of chapter 2, “behold, he is in thine hand; but save (or, preserve) his life.

Do you recall what Adam said in Genesis 3:23 when God brought Eve unto him? “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

That one flesh unity between Job and his wife was so binding that Satan could not touch the life of Job’s wife without touching the life of Job himself. And Satan cannot touch your husband or wife without touching your life as well.

“Touch now his bone and his flesh.” Satan heard what God said yet he tried to get God to allow him to destroy Job’s wife. Why? Because he knew that to destroy Job’s wife would be his way of touching the very life of Job himself.

Since Satan had not received permission from God to touch Job’s life, for him to touch the wife of Job would have been in direct violation to God’s command. And what a blessed thought to know that we are safe and secure in Christ, that Satan cannot touch our life without God’s approval.

Sometimes our suffering is confusing and we have a tendency to think that it is because we have done something wrong, but that is not always the case and this story of Job is a prime example of that.

MISUNDERSTOOD

Now, I have said all of this to bring to light our topic of discussion for today, who was it in scripture that a number of people have greatly misunderstood?

Our person of interest in this study is found in Job 2:9. She was the one that said, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.” As you can see we are talking about the wife of Job.

How are we to take these words of Job’s wife? Where they fierce and cutting as many have suggested or have taught; or where they presented in a much deeper meaning of sensitivity and perhaps we have totally misunderstood the meaning behind what she had said.

As we read on in Job 2:10 it would appear that Job was speaking to his wife harshly and scolding her when he says –

“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.

Six times the word curse is used in the KJV book of Job, and as you begin to research this word it may come as a surprise to you as it was to me what she may have really said, or dare I say meant.

 

I have been trying to get a feel for the way that these words were spoken, and depending upon how they were said you could come away with a completely different outlook on Job’s wife. It’s like anything that we say; it’s not only the words that we use but the way that we express them. It’s like when you say “I love you” to someone. The way that you say it is just as important as the words themselves. You could say it in a charming way, a happy friendly way, or a sarcastic way. Your tone of voice and demeanor play a big part in how you express yourself with the words that you use.

Sometimes it pays to do a word study to get a better understanding of something that is being said, and as I studied this word “curse” in the Strong’s Concordance it totally amazed me to its various meanings and in the way that it was used.

I found that it is the Hebrew word “barak,” and according to the Strong’s Concordance out of the 330 times that it is used in the KJV Bible 302 of those times it carries the meaning “to bless, or to kneel”. I asked myself how this could be? I believe that I have a pretty good understanding of what the word curse means. But never in my wildest imaginations would I have ever given thought to it meaning this.

Often you will find in the Hebrew and Greek that there are words that carry specific meanings which our English at times fails to properly express. And this word curse happens to be one of those words. I’m not saying that the 1611 interpreters did not properly choose the words that should have been used in these scriptures, I’m saying that sometimes the meanings of words change over time and we need to go back to those eras to get a clearer understanding of what is truly being said. Look at our own language today and how certain words now present a different meaning than what it was originally intended for. A good case in point are the words “cool, bad, my bag, and words from the 60’s and 70’s, groovy, or out of sight”. Don’t you suppose that people a thousand years from now are going to be scratching their heads over what we have said today?

So let’s examine this Hebrew word barak and how it was used in a few other places of scripture.

Deuteronomy 8:10 When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt (barak) bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.

1 Chronicles 29:20 And David said to all the congregation, Now (barak) bless the LORD your God. And all the congregation (barak) blessed the LORD God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped the LORD, and the king.

Genesis 24:11 And he made his camels to (barak) kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water.

Now let’s look in Job 1:11 to see how the word curse was used in that verse of scripture when Satan told God that Job would “curse him to His face.”

Job 1:11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. It is the same Hebrew word barak which means “bless” with a little something added to it. A modifier was added to the word, and the modifier was the Hebrew word “lo” which means not.

So in essence Satan was saying that Job would bless not the Lord. That Job would not kneel down to God and bless him if He God were to lift the hedge of protection that He had around Job and allowed Satan himself to touch him. This is the only place in scripture where I have found the modifier (lo) used with the word curse to present this meaning of “bless not”.

To try to get a better feel towards the character and the atmosphere surrounding Job and his wife I tried to compile some other thoughts and ideas as to how their respect and concern for one another may have been if they both possessed the type of spiritual character that would meld them together as being united as one.

A FEW ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS AND BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES

  • Job of course was the leader of his household as God would have us men to be.
  • With Job being a righteous man would you not think that he was likely to be careful to select a woman to wife who was equally yoked and like minded with him in serving the Lord?
  • Remember that Job’s wife suffered great loss as well.
  • Would it be reasonable to say that the type of persons that Job and his wife were that they taught their children well and had probably brought them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
  • Would I be correct in saying that Job’s wife was likely to always be in attendance and worship with Job whenever he made sacrifice and prayed?
  • Could it be that Job’s wife was exhausted physically and emotionally with all that happened to her regarding her husband, her children, and her former way of life?
  • What heartache did she suffer in knowing that there was the likelihood that her husband would die, leaving her alone with another grave to place flowers upon?
  • Wouldn’t you suppose that she may have gone to God everyday in prayer with questions and was likely to be begging and pleading for her husband’s life?
  • Had she watched over Job and protected him from the ridicule and scoffing of onlookers? I believe that she probably did.
  • Why did God not chasten nor punish Job’s wife for the words that she spoke? If they were bitter and cruel enough to suggest to her husband to curse God in a profane way, then why didn’t God reprimand her?
  • Interesting that as God again blessed Job so was his wife also blessed with double the wealth that they had before.
  • If she had not been a woman of strong, moral, and spiritual character could not Job have put her away (divorced her) and married other wives to father more children by?
  • Because of her being of the same mind and character as her husband I believe that God blessed her womb and that is why Job fathered ten more children with her.

IN SEARCH OF THE WORD CURSE

So how are we to take the meaning behind the word curse? I have read through various comments on these verses and wish to present one of several views that I have read to show that she may not have been the cruel and bitter woman that so many make her out to be.

According to several commentators and as suggested by the Strong’s Concordance this word curse is a Euphemistic expression in the Speech of Job’s Wife.

You may be asking yourself as I; what is a euphemistic expression?

In its basic meaning I take it to be saying something different from the way that it may sound to others.

Euphemistic defined as:

  1. A word or phrase used in place of a term that might be considered too direct, harsh, unpleasant, or offensive.

No doubt that when Job’s wife said to curse God and die that was a pretty harsh, direct, offensive expression. But I believe that the meaning behind what she said was totally different from the way that it sounded.

Here are a few examples of Euphemisms:

  1. a) You aren’t poor, you are economically disadvantaged.
  2. b) You aren’t broke, you just have temporary negative cash flow.
  3. c) Ah, that new car smell, genuine imitation leather. 100% vinyl.

You see we call them euphemisms, while our government calls it being politically correct.

In the following article the author presents the wife of Job in a different light than that of one who would chide her husband and suggest that he should blaspheme God and have his life taken from him for doing so.

The Most Misunderstood Woman in the Bible

Why Job’s wife may have gotten a bad rap

By: Daniel Darling

 

Her name was never revealed and yet she may be the most infamous woman in the Bible. Augustine labeled her “the devil’s accomplice.” Calvin called her “a diabolical fury.”

And the contemporary understanding of Job’s wife hasn’t improved on Calvin or Augustine. It’s difficult to find a book or sermon treatment of the life of Job that doesn’t include the usual condemnations toward his wife. It has become a standard joke to pity Job, as if his wife was yet another cross God called this man to bear.

If the Proverbs 31 woman represents a model of Christian virtue, the wife of Job occupies the role of least desirable, sharing space in the Hall of Shame with the likes of Jezebel, Delilah, and Michal.

But is this image an honest assessment of her character? Or is there a possibility that in our rush to empathize and identify with Job, we’ve rushed to cast judgment on his wife?

What We Forget

I wonder if there isn’t a gap in our understanding of the Job story. Although clearly Job is the main character, he is not the only one. She may not have been the primary subject of the cosmic argument between God and Satan (1:6-11; 2:1-4), but she was still caught in the crossfire. You might argue that every hardship endured by Job was similarly felt by his wife:

She watched her children die (Job 1:13-19). Ten times God had blessed her womb. Ten times she endured the joy and pain of childbirth. Ten lives nurtured to love, honor, and respect Jehovah. From the account in the first chapter of Job, this appears to be a fun-loving, God-fearing, tight-knit family. Who was the heartbeat of this home? Likely Job’s wife played a part in that. It’s unlikely he could be such an esteemed man in society (Job 1:1) if his wife was not an integral and influential leader in her own right.

Imagine the grief that overwhelmed her soul as she looked down in disbelief at ten freshly dug graves.

She experienced dramatic financial loss. The Bible describes Job as a wealthy man, perhaps the richest in the world (Job 1:3). Undoubtedly his wife was accustomed to a lifestyle of luxury and comfort. I imagine her home was adorned with the finest furnishings, her clothes spun from the most expensive threads. Her children likely had everything they needed.

In one really bad day, she lost it all. All their wealth, property, and way of life (Job 1:13-22). She was not only bankrupt, but homeless, forced to beg outside the city dump.

She became a caretaker for her disease-ravaged husband. Although Old Testament scholars don’t agree on the nature of Job’s illness, clearly his pain was so excruciating, he asked God to take his life (Job 3). It distorted Job’s appearance so dramatically that his closest friends could barely recognize him and when they approached, fell to the ground in pity (Job 2:12). This last temptation brought by Satan was so severe, it nearly broke Job’s soul. Every day Job spent at the ragged edge of death, only experiencing momentary relief brought by the heat of the burn piles and the scrape of pottery shards.

While we weep with Job, we miss the faithful, steady presence of his wife. She put aside her own grief to stay and care for her husband. Imagine the exhausting drain, caring for a suffering soul like Job. Imagine the loud howls of agony, hour after hour, day after day. Imagine the one you love walking the thin line of sanity, suffering excruciating, debilitating pain.

Job’s wife continued this mission of mercy without the resources of a helpful support network, without any financial resources, without relief. Their children were gone, their friends and family scattered, her God seemingly absent.

Words of Despair

And we come back to those seemingly bitter words of resignation, the only recorded words of Job’s wife in the entire story. Words shared at the lowest point of her life.

“Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die” (Job 2:9, ESV). These are tough words that appear to reflect a heart bitter and angry toward God. This is where most commentators pounce, accusing Job’s wife of collusion with the Devil to force her husband to do exactly what the Devil predicted Job would do: give up on God. Many question her faith, wondering if perhaps her faith in Jehovah wasn’t real.

I find both scenarios difficult to believe. Every human has moments, words, thoughts we’d love to have back, shared in the crucible of a crushing trial. Imagine if those words were recorded in history for everyone to dissect and analyze.

Clearly God chose to record her thoughts in Scripture, yet sometimes I wonder how fair it is to define an entire life based on one conversation. Nowhere before or after this incident are we given any indication that Job’s wife was a perpetually bitter, unhappy wife.

And perhaps her advice to Job wasn’t born out of her own misery, but out of compassion. Day after day, she witnessed her husband live out his days in utter agony, no relief in sight. Maybe she was seeking the most compassionate way out for Job. Curse God, pull the plug, and get it over with. Perhaps she longed to see an end to Job’s suffering, a painless journey to the sweet relief of heaven. This is certainly something Job himself desired of the Lord.

It’s not uncommon to find raw, honest, expressions of grief spilled on the pages of the Bible. Yet we celebrate David, Moses, Jeremiah, and even Job as being authentic and honest, but heap judgment on Job’s wife for similar expressions.

A Husband’s Response

Job’s response is fascinating. He carefully listens and watches his beloved wife shrink under the weight of their shared hardships.

I imagine Job lifts his blistered hand and strokes her hair. At first, his words read like a harsh rebuke: “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10, ESV).

Yet, if you listen to Job, you almost hear admiration. “You speak as one of the foolish women.” He didn’t say his wife was foolish. He didn’t even say her words were foolish. He said, “She sounds like one of the foolish women.”

In other words, “You don’t sound like yourself.” You might read these words like this: Sweetheart, that’s not you talking. This doesn’t sound like the woman of God I know and married. That is not you talking, my wife. Let’s remember God’s promises. Let’s remember his goodness.

Such a far cry from the ringing condemnation she’s received in the centuries since. Job knew his wife’s suffering was just as acute as his. In fact, seeing the pain in her eyes may have added to Job’s great suffering.

It’s likely she was in a state of shock. Sudden loss has a way of clouding our judgment, distorting our view of reality and of God. Often those living in the thick of tragedy make contradictory statements about faith and life. Today we might even conclude Job’s wife suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Apparently Job’s words were the balm his wife needed to soothe her soul, because she isn’t heard from again in the remaining chapters of the story.

What Does God Think?

Curiously, while authors, commentators, and pastors all rush to judge her, God is silent. The Scriptures don’t record specific words of blessing for Job’s wife like they do for Job (Job 1:8).

Yet we don’t find divine rebuke either. Surely, if God was displeased with her, he would have expressed it. He didn’t hesitate to rebuke Job’s friends (Job 42:7-9).

All we know of God’s treatment of Job’s wife is how he blessed her after the trial was over. She shared in the doubling of their wealth (Job 42:10). She had the privilege of giving birth to ten more children, whom the Scriptures declared the most beautiful in all of the land (Job 42:12-15). And it’s likely she shared in the many more fruitful years of her husband’s life. The Scriptures say that Job lived long enough to see four generations of his offspring (Job 42:16).

A Model of Endurance

So what can we learn from Job’s wife today? Perhaps her greatest testimony is her simple presence during her husband’s lowest moments. At the end of Job, we read that his siblings and friends returned and “consoled and comforted him because of all the trials the LORD had brought against him” (Job 42:11). It’s easy and safe to show compassion after the fact, but during Job’s lowest moments, they were nowhere to be found.

Yet every single day, there was his wife, caring, loving, and enduring the trials Satan inflicted.

The trials that would split many marriages didn’t split Job and his wife. They stuck it out together. And at the end of this story, we read of them conceiving and raising another ten children.

Was her attitude perfect throughout the storm that engulfed her family? No. Did she say things she would later regret? Absolutely.

But through it all, she endured, her faith in God remained intact, and maybe, just maybe, her service to her husband should be held up as a model of biblical character.

CONCLUSION:

Of the views presented herein and the study on the Hebrew words “barak and lo” where do you find yourself with regard to Job’s wife. Was she a bitter woman with a condemning spirit as some would have us believe, or was she indeed a Psalms 31 virtuous woman caught up in a period of great woe and misery? And maybe you have an alternate view altogether!

The question is; how would we react in such confusion and pain if we were standing in the place of Job and his wife? Has our spiritual strength stood under the pressure of the trials that we have faced in our own lives? Only you can answer that!

We must all come to the realization that there are things that we will come across in scripture every now and then that are shadowed in mystery and they are not always so cut and dry for us to understand. Yet it behooves us to search the scriptures daily to see if the things that we are taught are so.

 

Advertisements