A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel (Proverbs 12:10)
This verse contrasts the attitudes and actions of the righteous versus the wicked. You would expect them to be different – and they are.
The righteous man cares about his animal. It belongs to him and is his responsibility. If he takes good care of it, his animal will continue to be of value to him. If he doesn’t, it will be in the best interest of neither.
The wicked don’t care about anyone or anything else – just themselves. What might be considered acts of kindness by them are, in truth, just selfish choices for their own benefit and will only be cruel to others – man or beast.
The best the wicked can do is only hurtful. His only hope is to change – from wicked to righteous. And the good news is that this happens all the time.
Animals in the ancient world were not generally kept or treated as pets. They were basically tools to help people accomplish what needed to be done. The modern western concern for an animal’s feelings did not seem to be widespread in antiquity.
Admittedly, in the ancient world – just as today – some guys took better care of their tools than others. Those who took care of their equipment planned on having it a long time and getting maximum benefit from it.
Similar attitudes and actions are still typical throughout the Middle East today. At my Tall el-Hammam dig site in Jordan, Americans are regularly dismayed at the treatment of animals by locals. Whether dogs, cats, sheep or donkeys, we get upset at how even owners treat their animals. They don’t seem to consider that these animals might feel pain because they are simply tools to get some work done.
One of the local landowners, who keeps a large section of his fields open for our excavation, is quite wealthy and has a pet dog – a greyhound. Really more like an expensive toy, he enjoys the dog and cares for it as the investment it is. But, most locals have little appreciation for pets. This is the Old Testament world behind our verse.
One Day at a Time,
Pastor Gary Byers