My Breath Is Offensive To My Wife

W. Terry Varner
January 20, 2013

No, I did not say that about my breath and my wife. Job did! Job was not talking about a dental or oral problem among his many other problems. The background to Job's statement is a reference to the trials of losing his property, his family, and his health while being tested by Satan (Job 1:6-2:8). He did have a wife who encouraged him to "Curse God and die" (Job 2:9). In addition, Job had three friends—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite (Job 2:11)—who tried to convince him with wrong counsel. With friends like these, Job did not need any enemies.

Job and God. The relationship between Job and God is described as: "blameless and upright, and who feared God and turned away from evil" (1:1). This is a description of a mighty man. Job was a good man, pious, and wealthy in earthly goods. He was "the greatest of all men of the east" (Job 1:4). Satan questioned Job's faithfulness as suspect by claiming God had "made a hedge about him" (Job 1:10). Unknown to Job, God allows Satan to test him with the exclusion of touching him personally (Job 1:12).

We might ask, why would God allow Satan to do test Job without Job knowing it? The answer is that at times God may wish to test His children to demonstrate to the world the principle of faith and virtue in our lives of which we will be totally unaware. God allows Satan to test man as God allows. At the same time, Satan can do to man only what man allows him to do.

God knew Job and compliments his righteousness (James 5:11). God respects the dignity of man by expecting us to act like a man (Job 38:3). God will discipline men to make us stronger (Heb. 12:5-6). We are told, "In all this Job sinned not, nor charged [accused] God foolishly" (Job 1:22).

Job and his faith. It is evident that God believed in the faith of Job. If not, He would not have allowed Satan to test Job by destroying his possessions, his family, and finally his health. Tragic? Yes!

So often when tragedy strikes us, we are tempted to blame God in one of two ways: God caused the tragedy or God failed to prevent the tragedy. When we do this we reject the lessons from Job and give Satan two victories: Satan destroys our faith and causes to blame God for our faith failing. We forget that "God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone" (James 1:13). Job's faith is described by James as: "You Have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful" (James 5:11). As children of God, our faith is attacked, tested, and tried and when this happens, we are to stand firm, act like men, and be strong (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:13).

Job's normal experiences of life. Job had friends, family, acquaintances, and was well-known. Yet, Job felt alone in his trials. Sometimes in life's trials, we feel alone. David said, "I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me; refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul" (Psalm 142:4). Job felt alone. Reading Job, and being realistic with life, we often do what Job did in his trials of life. He wrestled with questions and his emotions. We can hear Job asking, "Why is this happening?" "When will it stop?" "What did I do to suffer in this manner?"

Out of his suffering, Job shows his emotions. "My breath is offensive to my wife. And I am loathsome to my own brothers. Even young children despise me; I rise up and they speak against me. All my inward friends abhor me, And those I love have turned against me" (Job 19:17-19).

It is sad when one's brethren, family, and acquaintances forsake us when things happen. We, like Job, will feel alone. Have you not had friends and acquaintances who when you had trials were often are like Job's friends—"fair-weather" friends? They are here when things are going great, but they are nowhere to be found when times are tough. The phrase "inward friends" describes those closest to him. They abhorred Job in his trials and he said, "Those I love have turned against me." It is horrible to be betrayed by those we love and by our friends. Yet, God loves us and we often turn against Him.