The creation that we have been provided is both a testimony to man’s search for his Creator (Acts 17:24-27) and a visual lesson for man’s search for himself in that creation. The wisdom of scripture urges us to consider ants (Prov 6:6), dogs (Prov 26:11), rock badgers, locusts, lizards (Prov 30:24-28), the lilies of the field (Matt 6:26), or even the fowls of the air (Matt 6:28) in order that we may obtain wisdom ourselves. Not only the creation but also the creatures which inhabit it can teach us how to better seek and serve out Lord.
Let us then consider then the dog, not his questionable digestion habits (Prov 26:11), but its role as a beneficial companion. In the Old Testament eating a dog or touching its carcass would make one ritually unclean for a time (Lev 11:27-28), yet they seem to be present within the cities of the Israelites as work animals (Exo 22:31; Ps 68:23; Matt 15:26-27). Even in our culture today dogs are considered inedible by the majority of society, but the work animal is now considered “man’s best friend.”
I began to give consideration to my own “best friend” Jack, when I was attempting to get him accustomed to me as his new owner. Jack came to us at the age of two and Jack is not a small dog. He was however very friendly and in his own way doing his best to show us how much he appreciated all the care and attention we showered on him. At feeding time, however, he would begin to growl at me after I would finish pouring. In effect he was telling me to back off, and I would oblige him, because I empathized with Jack. I knew how hard it was to get used to a new owner. I too thought I knew better than the Lord and I would grumble and complain when the blessings and prosperity I thought were mine to keep, and how mad I would be when the Lord came to take them away (Prov 16:18; Luke 12:13-24).
This became a problem as sometimes things would get in his bowl that he shouldn’t eat, and sometimes when his bowl had a few bits left he wouldn’t let me refill it. But I knew he was trying to understand because his tail wagged even as he growled. And as he watched I would carefully return the bowl, with more food or with a treat, until the growling stopped and he only sat and wagged his tail as he waited for me to do whatever it was I was doing, trusting that whatever it was it would all be all right in the end.
As Christians, each of us desires to be God’s best friend. Which includes love (John 14:15), obedience (John 15:14), and trust (Isa 40:31). When something is taken from us, let us wait on the Lord, trusting him in obedience, realizing we are being prepared for something much more than the food of today, or the promotion of tomorrow (Rom 8:28-34). Let us set with untroubled tails wagging, knowing our best friend will never let us down (John 14:1-6).
– James M. Barnette