"If thou meet thine enemy’s ox.
. .going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him
When I look at this verse, I do not think of the
"enemy" like the enemies associated with war. No--I
think of neighbors and acquaintances and former friends
who are no longer as close to us as they used to be.
If we lived on a farm--and many do--we could envision
a cow or a horse going astray. The proper thing to do is
to corral that animal and take it back to the owner,
even if that owner was an "enemy." Or at least, we
should phone the owner.
One time one of our sons saw a thief on a neighbor’s
porch stealing a bicycle. Immediately, I called the
neighbor. The neighbor was nonchalant about it. In fact,
he did not seem to care. Maybe he did not believe me.
The next day he called me and asked what I knew about
the thief on his porch. The bike had been stolen! I had
done my job. I had been a good neighbor.
We live in the suburbs and do not have farm animals.
I have never seen a stray sheep or pig walk by our house
here in Collingswood. But, upon occasion, I have seen a
dog or a cat, or a raccoon, rabbit, or possum. (The
other night a coyote was spied by some friends.) If I
knew the dog or cat was lost--and I knew the owner, I
would contact him or her, even if that person was not a
"friend" to me.
A month or so ago, we received a flier from a
desperate dog owner. I did not know the dog or the
owner. The dog had gone astray. I kept the flyer. I was
concerned. I called the owner. She said the dog had
returned. I wanted to find out more about the dog and
make a friend of the owner. She was most impolite! She
did not care that I cared. I had done my part.
So as I look at this verse, I believe the verse means
that there are certain kindnesses and amenities that a
follower of the Lord Jesus Christ should perform towards
others, even if there is a division of some kind between
the owner of the animal and the Christian. You may or
may not make a friend--but that is not the point. We
should be kind and concerned.
The next verse instructs the children of Israel that
even if one of them sees a burdened-down donkey of an
owner who hates them, the Israelite should help the
beast. This is just common courtesy and friendship even
to those who dislike us--even if we receive no
recognition for our good deed. God keeps the records! (ysw)