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Genuine Concern for Our Animals
Proverbs 12:10 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
10 A righteous man has regard for the soul of his animal,
but even the mercy of the wicked is cruel.
A righteous man has regard for the soul of his animal: The righteous (צַדִּיק tsaddiq) man refers to one who is in a righteous standing before God, who is characterized by righteous thinking, actions, and morals in accordance with God’s moral standards. Regard (Heb. yada) here means to have concern for. Soul (נֶפֶשׁ nephesh) basically refer to (1) people, (2) animals, or (3) the life that a person or animal has. (Gen. 1:20; 2:7; Num. 31:28; 1 Pet. 3:20) The Bible author’s use of nephesh in connection with earthly creatures, humans or animals, refer to that which is material, tangible, visible, and mortal. A soul breathes. (Gen. 2:7) A soul is a living creature that sins (Lev. 5:1), works (Lev. 22:30) can be kidnapped (Deut. 24:7), can be annoyed (Judges 16:16), tormented from the troubles of this imperfect life (Job 19:2), weeps because of grief (Ps 119:28), and much more. Thus, the righteous man is concerned for the welfare of his animal’s life.
but even the mercy of the wicked is cruel: This is a contrast with line one. Mercy (רַחֲמִים rachamim) means to have a deep awareness of and sympathy, compassion, and pity for another person’s suffering. The mercy here is selfishly motivated. The Hebrew term (אַכְזָרִי akzari) here rendered cruel is a feeling of extreme heartlessness. Initially, this may seem difficult to understand.
Does the Bible Affirm That Animals Have Rights?
Here, Solomon teaches a lesson on goodness by drawing on the agricultural way of life. The righteous man is truly profoundly concerned about the life of his animals, treating them with kindness. On the other hand, the wicked man may appear or seem concerned for his animals. Yet, this is not because he has sympathy, compassion, and pity for the animal’s needs. No, his motives are selfish, and any concern shown to his animals is based on what profits the animal can bring him. While on the surface, the outward appearance may seem that the wicked man is adequately caring for his animals. However, underneath it is cruel treatment. He may push the animal to its limits, yet house, water, and feed him well. Or maybe the animal is suffering from injury or disease, and the wicked man is keeping it around to get whatever work out of it that he can when the kind thing would be to end its life. Moreover, the animal has a sense of the wicked man’s true feelings.
This can be applied to our pets today. It would be heartless to get a pet and then cause the pet needless suffering because we neglect its needs or mistreat it. Another way to look at it is we may be selfishly letting our pet that we do genuinely love to live in needless pain and suffering from disease or injury when kindness may call for ending its life.
 Or life; inner self
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