Psalm 50:10 – For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. (NIV)
Genesis 2:19 – Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. (NIV 2011)
When spring finally arrived, I went out to the garden with some fresh water for my box turtle that had emerged safe and sound from her hibernation spot. But I was surprised to discover that she had company – three adorable baby cottontails! Although I was tempted to pick them up, something told me that it wasn't a good idea. So I went online to research "baby rabbits". What I learned is that most of the time, the mother is nearby; therefore, I should not automatically assume that the bunnies had been abandoned. I was satisfied with this information as the animals appeared healthy and ready to explore the world on their own. Then later, a friend brought me the cutest little baby turtle from her backyard. I named him "Buttons" because of the markings on his shell.
Interestingly, it was the first human, Adam, who named the animals. This was his first act of dominion over the creatures around him. Perhaps God intended this exercise as a way for Adam to develop a deep sense of concern and responsibility for the wellbeing of what he had authority over.
Contemplating my experience with wildlife, I thought about our responsibility before God to be good stewards over all His creation, including the animals. Let us consider the following:
- The Lord tells the righteous to "care for the needs of their animals". (Proverbs 12:10 NIV)
- He instructs Israel to allow their animals to rest on the Sabbath. (Deuteronomy 5:14)
- He prohibits the mismatching of animals so as not to burden them with undue stress. (Deuteronomy 22:10)
- He prohibits muzzling the ox as it treads grain. (Deuteronomy 25:4)
- He commands shepherds to "know the condition of your flocks". (Proverbs 27:23 NIV)
- People are to rescue a fallen beast even if it belongs to the enemy. (Exodus 23:4-5)
Questions for reflection: What experience, if any, have you had with animals in your own life, domestic or wild? What spiritual lessons have you drawn? How is it our duty to exercise dominion over animals according to God's plan?
Prayer: Heavenly Father and Creator of all things, we thank You for Your glory and majesty that are displayed throughout all the world. As Your word declares, everything that has breath will praise You — even the animals. Grant us each a caring spirit and a teachable heart, that we may learn from even the lowliest of Your creatures and see Your wisdom in all that You have made. Amen.