PROVERB PRACTICALS animal care 101, proverbs 12:10, audio
Proverbs 12:10, A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
When God loves, He does not neglect his creatures for as their Creator He is concerned about their welfare.
Godís word is sufficient for it provides to us Godís mind in even the smallest details, and that includes our relationship to what are called beasts in this proverb.
All of us have had contact with these beasts in one form or another.
Some of you have grown up on farms or ranches and have had much contact with horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs or chickens.
Most of us have or have had dogs or cats or birds for pets.
As a boy I remember our dog, a Spitz breed, with long, thick white fur, and pointed ears, whom we called Jeep or Jeeper.
Nancyís memories are filled with her familyís dog, a very long lived dog named Lucky or in times of endearment named Lucky Pup.
Twas a sad day indeed when Lucky Pupís luck ran out.
Our family is indeed a dog family and through the years we have had many dogs as pets, most of them outside dogs but a few were let in the house to live a more comfortable life.
Our first family dog way back in 1961 was from Nebraska, a dog whom we named Brummer, a dog who went to Japan with us, an excitable dog who when hearing a knock on the dog charged right though the side window to get at the knocker.
We buried him there in Japan with tears after dying a premature death.
We then had a series of dogs starting with Buffy, then Binky then Bo Bo.
Canít forget a white short haired dog who wandered on our property whom we named Fruitloops for that poor creature had the mange on his head which revealed skin with colors of the cereal Fruitloops.
Dogs came and went with names like Big White Fluffy Dog, which we called at times, Big, Big White, Fluffy or Fluffy Dog.
There was Sapphire, Bear, Charming, Pumpkin, Cinders, our dear English or Australian Sheppard dog, Wendy, run over by a school bus, and my wifeís most beloved dog, Rusty, whom she cared for through his last breath in 1998 and since then only visiting dogs have been in our life.
Come to our home and I can show you where they are buried, wrapped in sheets, with some graves marked with objects to remind us of pleasant memories of their presence in our familyís lives.
My background as a Chicago city boy was very limited with regard to animals however I do remember the horses and wagons of the junkman coming through the neighborhood in the 1940ís calling out loudly ďRags, Old IronĒ as he tried to buy scrap to sell elsewhere for a profit.
As a boy I did not hear ďRags, Old IronĒ but I heard ďRags a lion.Ē
Didnít know what that meant but I knew that what he was after was junk.
His horse was one of those tamed, old, tired beasts who knew his place and knew what speed to pull the wagon and just did his duty without comment.
Sometimes he would even have a feed bag attached so he would dine in style as he went through the city alleys.
Of course another connection with beasts in those days was every Chicagoanís contact with the famous stock yards that were located on the south side of Chicago.
When the Windy Cityís south wind blew we all were reminded of what was taking place in that direction as beasts of every ilk were being slaughtered in order to please the appetites of the meat eaters of the world.
From the Civil War until the 1920s more meat was processed in Chicago than in any other place in the world.
For 100 years the Union Stockyard was finality for the beasts of the nation.
Carl Sandburg, the poet, called Chicago the Hog Butcher of the World.
Butcher for the World,
My wife can tell you of her visit to the stockyards in the 1950s on a field trip while she was an elementary student, maybe 10, 12 years old.
Talk about a difference in society and culture from that time to today for what she saw then would be looked upon as child abuse and the school principal would be fired.
For she and her class were witness to the actual slaughter of cattle as the cattle were marched through the cattle chute where a large man with a sledge hammer standing above the chute would sling that hammer into the head of the beast causing instant death.
Now I imagine the pain and suffering of the school class was more than the pain endured by those beasts for in this method of slaughter there was regard for the life of the beast whose death was a death without pain.
For a righteous man regards the life of his beast, especially those who depend upon us, even when his beast is good for food.
God provides beasts for food but even in the taking of life from them we are not to cause them unnecessary pain or suffering.
Our God is concerned about every part of His creation and our care of it including all the animals he has made, for not only our food but for our use and our pleasure.
As we are told in Psalm 50:10,11, For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.
We are but stewards of what God has made.
We are but caretakers of that which God has put in our hands.
We are not to look upon Godís creatures as worthy of neglect thinking them inferior, for that kind of thinking raises oneself over others as superior.
Any mercy of the righteous man or the righteous woman extends itself not only to people who are less able, such as the poor or the elderly, or the infirm, but to creatures less able who are given to depend on their care.
A righteous man is concerned for any animal under his care or within his authority, to provide it of its necessary food and rest and workload and will try to lessen any misery and pain it may suffer.
Work animals are given by God to help with the load and animals are to be rewarded accordingly.
In the times of the law God not only prescribed rest for the Jews on the seventh day but He directed that their animals also ought to rest on the seventh day.
Exodus 20:10, But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
Every living creature is under God and created for a purpose defined by his maker.
None of us are to misuse what God owns and we are to care that Godís property is free and able to do what God declares it to do.
The world was drowned in Noahís day and 8 people were saved but remember Godís care of the kingdom of animals taking two, female and male, of the unclean beasts and seven of the clean.
He purposed them not to be abused but gave them with a purpose sometimes known only to Himself.
God tells us to not be cruel to animals, even to the point of preventing the ox from eating while working, and not plowing with an ox and an ass together, knowing that animals of different weights and strengths would put both of them to suffer.
So our Bible instructs the righteous man to have regard for the life of his beast and tells us that even the mercy of the wicked with regard to his beast is cruel.
This is another identifying mark of the righteous and of the wicked.
God is careful to give us markers in order for us to know in which camp we fit.
Remember the stories of the animals in scripture, for example the story of Rebekah who came to the well for water but volunteered to water the camels of Abrahamís servant.
Genesis 24:18-21, And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. 19 And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. 20 And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels. 21 And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.
Rebekah was not only concerned for the thirsty man but she was concerned about his camels and went out of her way to provide water.
Donít you suppose this compassionate act on the part of Rebekah was a great revealer to the servant that Rebekah was perhaps the one that God was directing him to?
Remember David, a man after Godís own heart, but a sinner nonetheless, was so moved by the sad story of the killing of a familyís pet lamb.
The lamb was killed by a cruel rich man who spared his flock but took of the poor man this beloved pet in order to feed a visiting traveler.
2 Samuel 12:5,6, And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: 6 And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.
Of course we know from the story that David had pity on this poor lamb but had no pity on Uriah the Hittite whom he sent to battle in order to have Bathsheba.
We are indeed complicated creatures.
And this message of Godís care for his creatures extends into the preaching of Jesus who said: Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
And in Matthew Godís care for His creatures is expressed by Jesus saying: and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
What is a sparrow worth to us?
Most likely nothing but a sparrow is not outside of the care of the Almighty.
Think about this the next time you wantonly kill what you think is a pest but in Godís eyes is something worth caring for.
Think carefully of why did God put snakes on the earth, why did God put spiders here who live in palaces at times.
Are they of no value and must be killed because they exist?
Remember in Luke 13 how Jesus used the laws of humane treatment of animals when justifying the healing of the crippled woman on the Sabbath.
Luke 13:14,15, And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. 15 The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?
And that wonderful reminder by our Lord of your heavenly Fatherís care for the fowls of the air in Matthew 6:26:
Matthew 6:26, Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
And though He says we are much better than they, God feeds them, God, who made them, cares for them.
And we must not forget that God choose for his Son to enter the world in a stable surrounded by beasts such as donkeys, oxen, cows and sheep.
In much of Jesusí preaching his love of these creatures is evidenced by his reference to them in his teachings.
Are we not sheep gone astray?
Godís care of Jerusalem is compared with a henís concern for her brood.
Jesus came into the world as a lamb and was anointed by the Spirit of God, descending like a dove and lighting upon him.
Now in Psalm 36:6,7, Godís righteousness is shown by his preservation of man and beast.
Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast. How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
And again in Psalm 145:16,17, Godís righteousness is displayed by his open hand to satisfy the desire of every living thing.
Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.
So this is why our proverb can say: A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast:
Those who are in Christ, are they not in the Lord of righteousness and clothed in His righteousness.
Are they not made in the image of God and are they not being conformed to the image of Christ?
So a mark of those who dwell in Christ, who are being conformed to the image of Christ is to regard the life of his beast.
That mark will be shown in his care of those animals given to his care and others to whom he comes in contact.
But that other mark which places a man into the category of wicked concerns cruelty to Godís creatures for we are told that even the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
Cruelty to animals is the infliction of suffering or harm for purposes of other than self-defense or survival.
Killing for killingís sake is cruelty.
Killing for personal amusement is cruelty.
Animals are given by God and whatever is given by God comes with a responsibility for good stewardship.
We are to remember that when the Bible tells us God owns the cattle on a thousand hills that means that God owns everything and to wantonly destroy things He has made is sin and against his desire to care for his creation.