Job was unlike any other man of his day. The Bible describes him as “blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.” (Job 1:1) His story is well known by those familiar with the Old Testament. He was a righteous man who suffered greatly; as Satan attacked him under the sovereign ordination of God. Job had it all. Then he lost it all. Satan insisted that when Job lost everything he would “curse God to his face.” Yet in reality, Job did the opposite. He graciously praised the Lord saying, “the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21) God Himself describes Job with these words: “There is no one else like him in all the earth.” (Job 1:8)
With this as a backdrop, I'd like to examine the relationship between Job and the women of his day. And more specifically the relationship between Job and his wife. The Bible doesn't tell us a lot about his wife; but what it says is less than flattering. When Job was at his worst in terms of suffering and despair his wife encouraged him to “throw in the towel.” She not only encouraged him to die. She encouraged him to “curse God” and die. We see in this, not a graceful example of compassion and support but what appears to be an angry and bitter women. She appears to be angry at God, angry at Job, and perhaps angry at life itself. Job offers her a righteous rebuke. Here's the full exchange between Job and his wife: “Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:9-10 NASB)
With all this said, we might be wise to cut Job's wife some slack. The Bible doesn't really tell us what she was like outside of this period in Job's life. Maybe she was the godliest women around. And maybe she was merely suffering under the overwhelming amount of trials she currently faced. Let us not forget that she had just lost ALL TEN OF HER CHILDREN in a catastrophic storm that crushed the house they were gathered in. Her husband lost his livelihood and his health. She was persevering under stress and trials that most of us will never know. Try as we might, we cannot relate. So we should view her with an eye of grace. Yet at the same time we must be honest in rejecting her “curse God and die” advice. Nevertheless, regardless of how Job's wife was; we do know this of Job. He was faithful to her. In fact he was far more faithful than most Old Testament husbands were to their wives.
Consider for a moment Job's words from Job 31:1, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; not to look upon a young women with lust.” You might be tempted to say, “Big deal! Job simply committed himself to purity like any godly man would.” But this was clearly above and beyond the norm for Old Testament men. Even Old Testament saints. David most certainly looked upon another man's wife with lust. Abraham impregnated another woman; with his wife's full blessing. Solomon had many women who turned his heart from the Lord. And Jacob married and had children with two sisters, plus two other women to boot. Without question, Job stands out as peculiarly faithful in an age of marital infidelity.
And not only is he faithful in terms of not sleeping with other women. He's faithful in not even THINKING ABOUT sleeping with other women. He had “made a covenant with his eyes not to LOOK at a young women with lust.” In a day and age when the act of adultery was widely accepted, Job refused to even commit adultery in his heart. You might say that he was merely obeying the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. But bear in mind that this was hundreds, and maybe thousands of years before Jesus uttered the words about not “committing adultery in your heart” by looking at a women with lust. In other words, Job is an Old Testament man who is living by a New Covenant ethic. This makes his character and his fidelity stand out as rare in his day. This might explain why God calls him “blameless and upright” and it would certainly explain why God said, “there is no one else like him in all the earth.” (Job 1:8) And therein lies my main point. Job was peculiarly faithful to a wife who might not have been the most supportive, compassionate, or devoted wife on the planet. I'm speculating here, but IF his wife had a tenancy to criticize his godliness, as she did when she told him to “curse God and die” then it is even more amazing that he committed himself to refusing to look upon a young women in a lustful way.
Many men excuse their adulterous behavior by pointing out that their wife is less than supportive. A common ideology among men is that since their wife “doesn't understand me” then they will find a women who does. They either subtly or overtly blame their wife's lack of support for their own adulterous behavior. Many men have done this. But not Job. He refused to dive in the gutter with another women, even when his wife might have given him a reason and an excuse to do so. He was faithful to her (and more importantly) to God. Even when she was not supportive or sympathetic toward him.
In concussion, I'll say this. Both husbands and wives are flawed creatures. We typically expect a certain level of perfection out of our spouse that we ourselves don't live up to. We want them to be loving, supportive, and devoted 100 percent of the time. Yet we ourselves don't live up to this unrealistic standard. We want perfection from them; but we expect them to be gracious when we don't hold up our end of the marriage bargain.
Job made a commitment to his wife and he stood by it “till death did them part.” Your marital fidelity is not dependent upon whether or not your spouse deserves it. They may have sinned against you numerous times and proven themselves unworthy of your faithfulness. But a true man or women of God remains faithful even in the face of infidelity. Job was a wealthy, powerful, respected man who no doubt had opportunity to take the “low road” with a willing and beautiful women. But he consistently refused to do this. In fact he consistently refused to even THINK ABOUT doing this. He made a covenant with his eyes. He adamantly said I will not even LOOK at another women, much less sleep with her. And all of this he did, while PERHAPS having a wife who was unsupportive of his piety and his walk with God.
We should learn a lesson from Job. We too should pledge our faithfulness come what may. And we should help our spouses by being supportive of them in their trials rather than imploring them to “curse God and die.” Job was a rare jewel in an age of Old Testament infidelity. He was tested and he shined forth as gold. He didn't' cheat on his wife and he refused to even daydream about it. Let us imitate him and embrace his selfless love for an imperfect spouse. Job was a stalwart and in the end God rewarded him. Job was faithful to both his wife and his God. Let us do likewise. Not based on our circumstances which change by the moment. But based on the faithfulness that God has shown toward us. He has loved us in spite of our infinite faults. Let us do the same for the spouse that God has sovereignly given us.