The righteous care for the needs of their animals,
but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.
The righteous has regard for his beast because he is just, compassionate, and wise. It is a matter of justice to protect and preserve life. God is Creator of the animals, and we must have just cause to harm his creatures, especially those whom he has given to serve us. Righteousness includes compassion, as exemplified by the mercy our Righteous God has shown us. And then, it is wise to care for the beast who serves his master, thereby extending and promoting his usefulness.
Besides encouraging good care for animals, the point of the proverb is that righteousness leads us to care for everyone regardless of their status in life. The righteous have regard for the unborn, the handicapped, the terminally ill, the aged, the poor. Our regard for those who are considered the weak in society signifies our maturity in Christ.
Is there someone at work, in the neighborhood, in school who is shown little regard? By you? Take time to give him/her attention. Show regard for the life which God has made.
2 Samuel 22-24
22 David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. 2 He said:
‘The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
3 my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield[a] and the horn[b] of my salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my saviour –
from violent people you save me.
4 ‘I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and have been saved from my enemies.
5 The waves of death swirled about me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
6 The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.
7 ‘In my distress I called to the Lord;
I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came to his ears.
8 The earth trembled and quaked,
the foundations of the heavens[c] shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
9 Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
10 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
11 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared[d] on the wings of the wind.
12 He made darkness his canopy around him –
the dark[e] rain clouds of the sky.
13 Out of the brightness of his presence
bolts of lightning blazed forth.
14 The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
16 The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at the rebuke of the Lord,
at the blast of breath from his nostrils.
17 ‘He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
20 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
21 ‘The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.
22 For I have kept the ways of the Lord;
I am not guilty of turning from my God.
23 All his laws are before me;
I have not turned away from his decrees.
24 I have been blameless before him
and have kept myself from sin.
25 The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to my cleanness[f] in his sight.
26 ‘To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
27 to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
28 You save the humble,
but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.
29 You, Lord, are my lamp;
the Lord turns my darkness into light.
30 With your help I can advance against a troop[g];
with my God I can scale a wall.
31 ‘As for God, his way is perfect:
the Lord’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.
32 For who is God besides the Lord?
And who is the Rock except our God?
33 It is God who arms me with strength[h]
and keeps my way secure.
34 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he causes me to stand on the heights.
35 He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
36 You make your saving help my shield;
your help has made[i] me great.
37 You provide a broad path for my feet,
so that my ankles do not give way.
38 ‘I pursued my enemies and crushed them;
I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
39 I crushed them completely, and they could not rise;
they fell beneath my feet.
40 You armed me with strength for battle;
you humbled my adversaries before me.
41 You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
and I destroyed my foes.
42 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them –
to the Lord, but he did not answer.
43 I beat them as fine as the dust of the earth;
I pounded and trampled them like mud in the streets.
44 ‘You have delivered me from the attacks of the peoples;
you have preserved me as the head of nations.
People I did not know now serve me,
45 foreigners cower before me;
as soon as they hear of me, they obey me.
46 They all lose heart;
they come trembling[j] from their strongholds.
47 ‘The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Saviour!
48 He is the God who avenges me,
who puts the nations under me,
49 who sets me free from my enemies.
You exalted me above my foes;
from a violent man you rescued me.
50 Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing the praises of your name.
51 ‘He gives his king great victories;
he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed,
to David and his descendants for ever.’
David’s last words
23 These are the last words of David:
‘The inspired utterance of David son of Jesse,
the utterance of the man exalted by the Most High,
the man anointed by the God of Jacob,
the hero of Israel’s songs:
2 ‘The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me;
his word was on my tongue.
3 The God of Israel spoke,
the Rock of Israel said to me:
“When one rules over people in righteousness,
when he rules in the fear of God,
4 he is like the light of morning at sunrise
on a cloudless morning,
like the brightness after rain
that brings grass from the earth.”
5 ‘If my house were not right with God,
surely he would not have made with me an everlasting covenant,
arranged and secured in every part;
surely he would not bring to fruition my salvation
and grant me my every desire.
6 But evil men are all to be cast aside like thorns,
which are not gathered with the hand.
7 Whoever touches thorns
uses a tool of iron or the shaft of a spear;
they are burned up where they lie.’
David’s mighty warriors
8 These are the names of David’s mighty warriors:
9 Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim[n] for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, 10 but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.
11 Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. 12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.
13 During harvest time, three of the thirty chief warriors came down to David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. 14 At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem. 15 David longed for water and said, ‘Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!’ 16 So the three mighty warriors broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the Lord. 17 ‘Far be it from me, Lord, to do this!’ he said. ‘Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?’ And David would not drink it.
Such were the exploits of the three mighty warriors.
18 Abishai the brother of Joab son of Zeruiah was chief of the Three.[o] He raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed, and so he became as famous as the Three. 19 Was he not held in greater honour than the Three? He became their commander, even though he was not included among them.
20 Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. 21 And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 22 Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors. 23 He was held in greater honour than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard.
24 Among the Thirty were:
Asahel the brother of Joab,
Elhanan son of Dodo from Bethlehem,
25 Shammah the Harodite,
Elika the Harodite,
26 Helez the Paltite,
Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa,
27 Abiezer from Anathoth,
Sibbekai[p] the Hushathite,
28 Zalmon the Ahohite,
Maharai the Netophathite,
29 Heled[q] son of Baanah the Netophathite,
Ithai son of Ribai from Gibeah in Benjamin,
30 Benaiah the Pirathonite,
Hiddai[r] from the ravines of Gaash,
31 Abi-Albon the Arbathite,
Azmaveth the Barhumite,
32 Eliahba the Shaalbonite,
the sons of Jashen,
Jonathan 33 son of[s] Shammah the Hararite,
Ahiam son of Sharar[t] the Hararite,
34 Eliphelet son of Ahasbai the Maakathite,
Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite,
35 Hezro the Carmelite,
Paarai the Arbite,
36 Igal son of Nathan from Zobah,
the son of Hagri,[u]
37 Zelek the Ammonite,
Naharai the Beerothite, the armour-bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah,
38 Ira the Ithrite,
Gareb the Ithrite
39 and Uriah the Hittite.
There were thirty-seven in all.
David enrols the fighting men
24 Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, ‘Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.’
2 So the king said to Joab and the army commanders[v] with him, ‘Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enrol the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.’
3 But Joab replied to the king, ‘May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?’
4 The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enrol the fighting men of Israel.
5 After crossing the Jordan, they camped near Aroer, south of the town in the gorge, and then went through Gad and on to Jazer. 6 They went to Gilead and the region of Tahtim Hodshi, and on to Dan Jaan and around towards Sidon. 7 Then they went towards the fortress of Tyre and all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went on to Beersheba in the Negev of Judah.
8 After they had gone through the entire land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.
9 Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: in Israel there were eight hundred thousand able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand.
10 David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.’
11 Before David got up the next morning, the word of the Lord had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer: 12 ‘Go and tell David, “This is what the Lord says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.”’
13 So Gad went to David and said to him, ‘Shall there come on you three[w] years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.’
14 David said to Gad, ‘I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.’
15 So the Lord sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. 16 When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, ‘Enough! Withdraw your hand.’ The angel of the Lord was then at the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
17 When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned; I, the shepherd,[x] have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family.’
David builds an altar
18 On that day Gad went to David and said to him, ‘Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.’ 19 So David went up, as the Lord had commanded through Gad. 20 When Araunah looked and saw the king and his officials coming towards him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground.
21 Araunah said, ‘Why has my lord the king come to his servant?’
‘To buy your threshing-floor,’ David answered, ‘so that I can build an altar to the Lord, that the plague on the people may be stopped.’
22 Araunah said to David, ‘Let my lord the king take whatever he wishes and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing-sledges and ox yokes for the wood. 23 Your Majesty, Araunah[y] gives all this to the king.’ Araunah also said to him, ‘May the Lord your God accept you.’
24 But the king replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.’
So David bought the threshing-floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels[z] of silver for them. 25 David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord answered his prayer on behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.