Proverbs 27:23-27 Love For Animals

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.

Questions

  1. How is a wise person’s relationship with animals presented?
  2. What ways might a farmer neglect or abuse his flocks in the ancient world, do you think?
  3. How might this be an analogy for ruling?
  4. How would you describe your relationship with agriculture, either directly or through food purchases?
  5. How might God want you to change your relationship with produce and livestock?

Going Deeper

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/

 

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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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4 Responses to Proverbs 27:23-27 Love For Animals

  1. Should we be eating animals at all?

    I read a book about vegetarianism that made an interesting point. All of the meat eating creatures on Earth have sharp, fang like teeth and sharp claws to rip and tear flesh. All of the plant eating creatures have flat, round teeth and rounded nails, like ours.

    So why didn’t God equip us with the meat eating attributes, too? I am going to continue to eat hamburgers, this post just got me thinking again.

  2. Kelli says:

    Is it making the applicaion too broad to say that we need to be good stewards of all of the resources that God has given us? For example, taking good care of the home that He has provided for us? Or making sure that I “give careful attention” to my job because that is one means God has given us to provide for our family??

    Another direction my mind went is to not purchasing clothing made by companies that violate labor rights. Is that taking this passage too far? This is something that I’ve thought about, but I have never taken serious steps to impliment in my own life. Has anyone else? If so, what have you done?

  3. Plymothian says:

    I think we should consider who produces what we consume in the broad sense. Outsourcing everything just to get a bigger profit margin is not godly stewardship.

    Also, per Marcu’s comment. We do have ‘fangs’. However, there is anargument held by some that animal consumption was only condoned after the fall.

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