But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die (2 Samuel 12:3-5).
Nathan knew how to approach the king in a way that would touch his heart. Other men may have scoffed at the foolishness of the poor man who fell in love with a lamb. Not King David, his heart was still the heart of a shepherd. His indignant reaction opened the way for Nathan to bring him face to face with the reality of his own sin.
Falling in love with an animal has helped many people through times of sorrow and stress, or even mental illness. A stray cat found its way to the home of a lady who was showing signs of paranoid schizophrenia. She felt sorry for the half-starved creature, began to study the care and feeding of cats and was rewarded with an affectionate pet who has been with her for many years. In the process, her symptoms diminished and she is better able to cope with life. Being responsible for the feeding and care of a dependent animal helps to take a person’s mind off their own problems.
Farm children who are given a calf or a pony to care for may avoid many temptations that other young people fall into. A lonely single lady will rejoice at the thought of her dog who eagerly awaits her return. A dog who needs to be taken for a walk can lift his owner from the slough of despond.
I can spend hours at my computer doing bookkeeping, growing more frustrated by the minute with a client’s slaphappy record keeping. Then I become aware of a pair of golden eyes staring at me, silently and patiently. After I have spent a little time combing my cat and fussing over her, I return to the keyboard and find my frustrations have vanished. We have another cat who doesn’t want to be held. But when I a sit in the recliner and put my feet up he will jump up on my lap, curl up and fall asleep. I find it especially endearing when an aloof cat shows such evidence of trust.
There are cat ladies who want to take in every stray in the neighbourhood. There are people who thought it would be a good idea to have a pet, but do not have time or patience to care for it. I am not talking about such instances. But when a poor family showers affection on a cherished pet and takes good care of it, let’s not scoff and say they are wasting money. That pet is probably doing more good for the family than we imagine.