David, the young shepherd turned king, is rebuked by the prophet Nathan:
“The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one
rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing
except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food,
drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep o cattle to prepare
a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and
prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this
deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “I anointed you king
over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives
into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you
even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the
Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own…Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
2 Samuel 12:1-13 NIV
David’s sensitivity to animals is displayed not only here, but also in several psalms where he diminishes the importance of
animal sacrifice (Psalm 40, 51 of David, also Psalm 50 of Asaph). Isaiah … would later also takes up David’s theme –
animal sacrifices are not adequate for, or even pleasing to, God. Only a contrite heart matters.
“But whoever sacrifices a bull is like one who kills a man, and whoever offers a lamb is like one
who breaks a dog’s neck. . . They have chosen their own ways and their souls delight in their abominations.”
Isaiah 66:3 NIV
“The multitude of your sacrifices---what are they to me?. . .I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs
and goats. . .Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight!”
Isaiah 1:11, 16 NIV
As would other prophets like Hosea, Habakkuk, Micah:
“For I desire mercy not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings. “ Hosea 6:6 NIV
“And the destruction you have done to animals will terrify you.” Habakkuk 2:17 NIV
“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt
offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I
offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good,
and what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to have mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Micah 6: 6-8 NIV
The belief that the Holy Spirit can act through animals is evident in the New Testament from Jesus’ baptism.
“and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my
Son whom I love, with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:21
“Finally, and perhaps most importantly to a Christian, Jesus humbles himself both at the beginning and the end of his life.
He is born like an animal in an animal’s stall, and by the end of his life, he takes the place of the Passover lamb that is
sacrificed for Passover, by his position on the cross. “