This is a very important verse for us to consider. Proverbs 12:10 says, “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” This chapter is made up of comparative verses. In these verses, we learned the tendencies of those who are good, and those who are evil. Each verse has a positive and negative aspect as we compare the different natures of the righteous and the wicked.

What does it tell you about a person if you see him hitting or kicking his dog? What if he leaves his pets without food or water? What about one who leaves his pet tied with a short rope to a tree where he can barely move? Obviously, this is not a decent person. A righteous man would not let that happen. He would “regard the life of his beast.” Here, the word ‘regard’ literally means ‘to know’. In other words, a righteous man spends time with his animals; he gets to know them and learns their behavior and needs. He knows what his animals need by their actions or the sounds they make. He takes time to make sure he gives them the best care. A righteous man will take care of his animal. This is not to say that if someone does take care of their animal, he must be a righteous man. However, a righteous man will make sure his animals are taken care of properly. Animals have physical and emotional needs and a righteous man will take care of those needs.

Just one example of being righteous towards your animals is found in Deuteronomy 25:4, “Thou dost not muzzle an ox in its threshing.” When the ox is busy working for you, you don’t refuse him food. You do not put a muzzle on him so that he cannot eat of the wheat he is threshing. This is cruel and unjust.

On the other hand, even what is considered ‘tender mercies’ by a wicked person are acts of cruelty. Perhaps he may give water to his pet, but he puts it at the absolute end of his pet’s leash. The animal must strain and even choke himself a little to be able to drink. Even in his ‘mercy’, the animal owner is being cruel. Do animals have rights? Absolutely! Our farm animals perform a very valuable service to us and need to be treated respectfully. Our pets give us much pleasure and we should treat them with kindness and love. We read in Deuteronomy 22:10, “Thou dost not plow with an ox and with an ass together.” If you yoked together an ox and an ass (donkey), that would be so unfair to the much stronger ox who will then bear the majority of the load of the plowing.

In counseling young people about dating and finding a mate, among other things I tell them to observe how this prospective mate treats:

*THEIR PARENTS – Ephesians 6:1-2, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise).”

*THEIR FRIENDS – Proverbs 18:24, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

*THEIR ANIMALS – Proverbs 12:10, “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”

Much is revealed about the character of a person when we observe how they treat others, even their animals. (262.8)