Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
give careful attention to your herds;
24 for riches do not endure forever,
and a crown is not secure for all generations.
25 When the hay is removed and new growth appears
and the grass from the hills is gathered in,
26 the lambs will provide you with clothing,
and the goats with the price of a field.
27 You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed your family
and to nourish your female servants.
Love For Animals
At first glance animal lovers might get warm feelings when reading these verses. We are to care for our flocks and animals. However, the care here is more in line with taking care of pencils by putting them in a pencil case. It is not that one has an emotional connection with animals and must love them dearly, it is that one is to be a wise steward of animals when tey are a resource in an agrarian society. The meaning of these verses may be figurative. Addressed to princes who will be future rulers, the verse may be talking about people as flocks under the care of a shepherd king. However, for the analogy to hold the passage does support a view of prudent farming.
Farmers should manage their farms in a godly manner. I would say battery hen farming and the production of veal or fois gras are things that we should look at in light of this verse. How should one treat arable farm land? Most of us aren’t farmers, though. So what might these verses offer us? Maybe we should be more selective about what is served up on our tables at home. We can choose what we purchase and we can support godly practices. What kind of agricultural practices produce healthy food? What sort of processes damage the land and the food? If we invest in short term gain (cheaper prices for example), the passage warns of long term losses.
- How is a wise person’s relationship with animals presented?
- What ways might a farmer neglect or abuse his flocks in the ancient world, do you think?
- How might this be an analogy for ruling?
- How would you describe your relationship with agriculture, either directly or through food purchases?
- How might God want you to change your relationship with produce and livestock?
A little research on farming practices:
This post reports cows beaten with crow bars and male chicks that don’t produce eggs thrown in a grinder: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/26/conklin-dairy-farms-video_n_589826.html
Why do you think PETA repeatedly compare sheep to humans when reporting abuse of sheep?http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/hidden-lives-of-sheep.aspx
Here an MIT report on poor agricultural practices: http://12.000.scripts.mit.edu/mission2014/problems/ineffectiveinadequate-agricultural-practices
Here is an article that links cheaper food with obesity and questions the recent spikes in High Fructose Corn Syrup: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1247588/