8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark.11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
Here God shows his compassion to mankind by preserving them from destruction in the future, never again will he flood the earth, but most interesting is that this covenant includes all creatures. Though the author of Genesis 9 explicitly allowed for eating meat, he also believed that animals should be preserved, and not pushed into extinction. I doubt that this is for purely utilitarian means, since God does not mention inanimate objects alongside humans and animals.
The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.
Here the psalmist states that God has compassion not just for all mankind, but for all that he has made, and the Psalmist appears to celebrate it. This clearly shows that compassion towards animals was seen as a virtue by the Psalmist.
Precious treasure remains in the house of the wise,
but the fool devours it.
This verse, whilst not speaking to compassion towards nature per say, nevertheless supports sustainable use of resources, and can therefore be applied towards modern day issues such as deforestation and over-fishing.
If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you?
This verse speaks of the importance of preserving natural habitats, either for human sustainability or for the good of nature.
Then the Lord said, “You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labour and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?”
A clear statement that the life of animals hold value, not just for human use, because God does not mention inanimate objects which humans use here. No God is saying that animals lives should be preserved, we may eat meat (Genesis 9:3), and sacrifice animals (Genesis 4:4) but we must respect the lives of animals, and cannot kill them without good reason.
O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
By haplessly destroying the earth, and all it contains, we are missing out on a chance to glorify God through his creation, which the psalmist claims shows his wisdom.
To be clear…
Humans do have dominion over the earth, I am not going to soften the meaning of the words kbs and rdh in Genesis 1:28, meaning that humans are commanded to militarily conquer the earth, and use animals for are purposes, I am only arguing here that there are good biblical reasons to preserve the earth, as well as to rule over it, both mandates can exist at the same time, whilst conquering the earth may seem harsh, I argue that the mandate has already been fulfilled, based on the parallels to Genesis 1:28 in Genesis 9. I may elaborate on this further in a future post.
rkb ‘rpt, out!