Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.
Proverbs 12:10: “A righteous man regards the life of his animal, But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”
“A righteous man” listens to God’s Wisdom, and appreciates the world as the product of God’s mighty work: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) and “God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:25). Let us note, however, that God made humans to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Though a “righteous man” will “regard” his animal, he will also know the difference between a human and an animal! Animals are NOT human, too!
The best “the wicked” can offer (their “tender mercies”) “are cruel.” The cliché is true, that those who are cruel to animals as children are cruel to animals as adults, and cruel to humans, too. Those who disregard God’s care for animals will disrespect God’s care for humans, and vice versa. As one of God’s creatures, “natural brute beasts [are] made to be caught and destroyed” (2 Peter 2:12), but human beings are NOT!
God provided for animals to reproduce “according to its kind” (Genesis 1:25); when humanity was saved from a corrupted world in Noah’s ark, God included animals (Genesis 8:15-19); when God gave Israelites a “sabbath day,” He included the animals (Exodus 20:8-11); and the animals who were used to raise food were allowed to eat of that food (Deuteronomy 25:4)! God’s care for the animals He created will be reflected in a “righteous man” who is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-30). By-the-way, not muzzling the oxen but allowing them to be fed from their labors is applied to the support of Gospel Preachers (1 Corinthians 9:3-11). After quoting Deuteronomy 25:4, Paul asked, “Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?” Some brethren take better care of their animals and pets than they do of their Gospel Preacher! Such is not only disgraceful but damnable, as well! Care for animals was never intended to be greater than consideration for humans, especially Gospel Preachers, but was intended by God’s command to put “regard” into consideration for humans, hopefully to show them how to “regard” their fellow man!
All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.