Job 2:9-10

Sermon preached on August 2, 2015 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2015. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

Primum non nocere is a Latin medical term that means,

"First, do no harm."

I think I first heard it when I took a First Aid course. The idea is that if someone has a medical problem one of the main things you want to do is make sure that you don't make things worse. It's better to do nothing than to make it worse. You want to make sure that what you do is actually helpful.

Consider Job's wife here. She says to Job,

"Are you still holding on to
your integrity? Curse God and die!"

It's almost unbelievable that she would give him this advice. She reminds me of Eve when she gave the forbidden fruit to Adam.

What Job's wife suggests is one of the worst pieces of advice recorded in the whole of Scripture.

Job's wife is urging Job to curse God. It could have been that Job was suffering so much that she thought he was going to die very soon and the best thing for him to do is to curse God as an act of defiance against the unjust God before he takes his last breath. Or she saw him suffering so much that she wanted him to curse God so that God will kill him for that sin and thus his suffering would be ended. But whatever her motive—her suggestion is monstrous.

Cursing is almost always a terrible thing. There are some righteous curses in the Bible. There were curses associated with breaking God's covenant with the people of Israel. (Deuteronomy 30:19) Nehemiah cursed the men of Israel who had been unfaithful and married foreign wives. (Nehemiah 13:25)

But most of the references to cursing refer to it as a great evil—coming from those who are far from God, who hate Him and His laws. For example, Psalm 10:7 says of the wicked man,

"His mouth is full of curses
and lies and threats;
trouble and evil are under his tongue."

To curse means to wish for great harm to come upon someone, that disaster would strike them. The inner attitude that gives rise to this is one of utmost hatred and contempt. Cursing wishes for them to be destroyed in the most horrible way possible.

To have such thoughts against our fellow human beings is most evil. This is because human beings, as bad as some of us can be, were originally made in God's image. The Bible very clearly tells Christians that we are to be very careful about what comes out of our mouths. In James 3:9–10 we read,

"With the tongue we praise
our Lord and Father,
and with it we curse men,
who have been made in God's likeness.
Out of the same mouth
come praise and cursing.
My brothers, this should not be."

And in Romans 12:14 the apostle Paul sid,

"Bless those who persecute you;
bless and do not curse."

In the Old Testament one of examples that is held up as one of the worst forms of cursing is found in Exodus 21:17. It says,

"Anyone who curses his father
or mother must be put to death."

That form of cursing was a capital crime.

But what Job's wife suggests is even worse. To have such thoughts about God, to curse God, is an abomination. This is clear from Leviticus 24:10–16. The son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father got into a fight with an Israelite. The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name with a curse; so they brought him to Moses. God told Moses,

"Take the blasphemer outside the camp.
All those who heard him
are to lay their hands on his head,
and the entire assembly is to stone him.
Say to the Israelites:
'If anyone curses his God,
he will be held responsible;
anyone who blasphemes
the name of the LORD
must be put to death.
The entire assembly must stone him.
Whether an alien or native-born,
when he blasphemes the Name,
he must be put to death."

Cursing God is such a hideous evil that the whole community had to stone the offender. It had to be stamped out of Israel. Cursing God is thoroughly evil. Such thoughts should never be.

The reason they should never be is because God is good. God is the source of all good. When He revealed part of His glory to Moses, God proclaimed His name, the Lord, to him. God said, (Exodus 34:6–7)

"The LORD, the LORD,
the compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger,
abounding in love and faithfulness,
maintaining love to thousands,
and forgiving wickedness,
rebellion and sin."

God is so good. He is perfect in every way. We are to celebrate His perfections. Cursing God is the exact opposite of what we are supposed to do. God never does any wrong. He is perfect. What the Bible tells us to do, from cover to cover—is to bless God's name. Psalm 103 is one example. It begins, (Psalm 103:1–5 ESV)

"Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with
steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth
is renewed like the eagle's."

The ending of Psalm 103 is similar—every created thing is to bless God's name. David says, (Psalm 103:20–22)

"Bless the LORD,
O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!"

The best thing for human beings to do is to bless the Lord. It is the most right thing in the world for us to do. All creation should be doing that.

The middle of Psalm 103 gives us some of the reasons we should bless God. It says, (Psalm 103:10–13, 17-19)

"He does not deal with us
according to our sins,
nor repay us according
to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens
are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love
toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove
our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion
to his children, so the LORD shows
compassion to those who fear him…
the steadfast love of the LORD
is from everlasting to everlasting
on those who fear him,
and his righteousness
to children's children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
The LORD has established
his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all."

Not to praise God is a great evil. If you look at the people of the world today most of them ignore God. They don't even acknowledge His existence. They suppress the truth of His existence that they know deep in their hearts. As a result they neglect to praise God.

That in itself is a great sin. But much worse is to actually curse God. That's what Job's wife urges him to do. Job's wife here becomes Satan's agent. Augustine called her

"the devil's assistant."

Calvin referred to her as,

"Satan's tool"

She is taking on Satan's role. She is asking Job to do what Satan wants him to do.

To get someone to sin in such a way is horrible. The punishment that it deserves would be something akin to what Jesus said in Matthew 18:6. He said,

"if anyone causes one of these
little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him
to have a large millstone
hung around his neck and to be drowned
in the depths of the sea."

There is such evil in what Job's wife suggested. It is about an evil suggestion as one can utter. It is the exact opposite of what we should be doing.

There are important lessons for us here.

First of all, this shows us that we should

never take the side of Satan.

Job's wife failed miserably. We must not be like her.

Peter also took Satan's side in Matthew 16:21–23. we read,

"From that time on Jesus
began to explain to his disciples
that he must go to Jerusalem
and suffer many things
at the hands of the elders,
chief priests and teachers of the law,
and that he must be killed
and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside
and began to rebuke him.
'Never, Lord!' he said.'
This shall never happen to you!'
Jesus turned and said to Peter,
'Get behind me, Satan!
You are a stumbling block to me;
you do not have in mind
the things of God,
but the things of men.' "

Peter loved Jesus. The thought of Jesus suffering was repulsive to him. He didn't want Jesus to be killed. He was taking Satan's side.

This is amazing—that a Christian could take Satan's side.

How can we avoid taking Satan's side?

That is the great question. The incident with Job's wife and Peter are very instructive to us.

I believe that both of them let their emotions get the better of them. Or to put it another way, they let their love lead them astray. Job's wife loved him. It must have been so hard on her seeing her good husband suffer.

Peter loved Jesus. The thought of Jesus suffering was repugnant to him. He knew that Jesus was good. He knew that He was special. He knew that Jesus was full of love and mercy. He had seen Him do so many great things. He knew He was from God, he had just declared, (Matthew 16:16)

"You are the Christ,
the Son of the living God."

The same thing happened with Adam. He wasn't deceived when he sinned. Eve had been deceived when she sinned. The serpent tricked her. But when Eve offered the forbidden fruit to Adam he knew the situation. He loved Eve more than he loved God.

So one of the things we can do to avoid taking Satan's side is by recognizing that our emotions can lead us astray. Our emotions can't be trusted. The fall into sin has affected our emotions. We can love the wrong things. Or our love for the right things can be distorted.

So at times we need to make sure that we don't follow our hearts. We need to do the exact opposite of what the world tells us to do. Many in society today will tell you to,

"Follow your heart."

They will tell that your heart will not lead you astray. They will tell you to,

"Be true to yourself."

No. No. No. Be true to God. Be true to His will. Be true to His Word. 2 Timothy 3:16–17 says,

"All Scripture is God-breathed
and is useful for teaching,
rebuking, correcting and
training in righteousness,
so that the man of God
may be thoroughly equipped
for every good work."

If you are going to avoid taking Satan's side you must know God's Word. You must stand on it and obey it no matter if your heart tells you differently. We must be submissive to God's Word.

The second lesson we should learn from our text is that

we are to help others bless God.

We saw this already in Psalm 103. And according to 1 Peter 2:9 we Christians are to,

"declare the praises
of him who called you out of darkness
into his wonderful light."

Our speech is to be all about blessing God.

What Job needed at that moment in our text was a friend like Jonathan was to David when King Saul was trying to kill David. In 1 Samuel 23:16 we read,

"And Saul's son Jonathan went to David
at Horesh and helped him
find strength in God."

But the great question is:

How do we help others bless God when they are hurting?

Wisdom, tact and discretion are certainly needed when we approach those who are hurting. Great care needs to be taken in how we approach people who are suffering. Job's wife got it wrong. Job's friends got it wrong. Even if we have the right words to help them—we can go wrong if we are without the proper sympathy or concern.

But the essential thing we need to do is the exact opposite of what Job's wife did. We need to point people to God's wonderful character, to His work in Jesus, to His promises.

God shows us this in His Word. In 1 Kings 19 we see how the prophet Elijah was so discouraged not only because Queen Jezebel was trying to kill him, but because he was the only one life to serve God. In verse 11 we read,

"The Lord said,
'Go out and stand on the mountain
in the presence of the Lord,
for the Lord is about to pass by.' "

God directed Elijah to His glory, to His presence.

We have another example in John 11. There we read about Jesus' arrival in Bethany after his friend Lazarus had died. When Martha came to meet Jesus she said that if He had been there, her brother would not have died. She added that she knew that even now God would give Jesus whatever He asked. What did Jesus do? He directed her to God's promises and to Himself. Jesus replied, (John 11:23)

"Your brother will rise again."

That's a promise from God—a great truth that all who are suffering need to hold close to their hearts. Jesus then directed Martha to Himself. He said, (John 11:25–26)

"I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me will live,
even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.
Do you believe this?"

To be a blessing to hurting people we must focus them on God's glory, on His promises to us, on the person and work of Jesus. We must do the opposite of what Job's wife did.

May God give us grace to do so.