Running a Dynamic Household
Proverbs 14:4 provide moms with lots of encouragement. It says, “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much increase comes by the strength of the ox.”
The book, “Womanly Dominion-More than a Gentle and Quiet Spirit” by Mark Chanski says, “Step into an “oxless” barn. Look, there are no muscular beasts which do the great work of plowing up a field for planting. But it’s immaculate here. The manger is clean, no feed slop, corn dust, or beastly saliva. In fact, everything is spic and span. You could eat off the floor-no hay or mud. There are no unsightly hoof prints, manure piles, urine puddles, or buzzing flies. The smell is antiseptic and fresh. Everything is in perfect order.
But there is a downside to this tidiness. Outside the barn, the acreage is overrun with weeds. The fields are untilled and uncultivated. The grain cribs are empty. You see, there’s no ox to cut open the soil with the plow blade. And so, no seed was hidden, and no harvest was reaped. There’s no “increase” here. Poverty reigns and the cupboards are bare.
Now step into the “ox-inhabited” barn. Whew! The manure. Urine, hay, mud and flies make it anything but fresh and sweet in here. Here comes Farmer Elimelech with a shovel over his shoulder to clean up the mess. He’s late this morning. He was up at two a.m. to help deliver an ox calf. It’s a huge task to feed, house, and look after these enormous beasts. Why does he put up with all the grief, messiness, and aggravation? It’s as the Proverb says, because “Much increase comes by the strength of the ox.” “Increase “ is revenue, yield, income, harvest, or gain. These mighty plodders knife open the soil, enabling the nestling of the seed in rows, resulting in the eventual swaying of wheat and barley, the overflowing of barns, the rolling of full wagons to the market place, the piling of the kitchen table high with bounty, and the providing of riches of one’s family and heritage.
Sure, the barn is not very tidy, immaculate, or fresh smelling, but the yield, the increase makes it a far better barn than the first.
In a nutshell, Proverbs 14:4 teaches that enduring and worthwhile gain comes only at the cost of draining upheaval. The modernized version is: "No pain, no gain.”
Derek Kidner entitles this proverb, “Neat but Negative.” Think of the dear woman who dreams of an immaculate house, uncluttered by the tramplings and inconveniences of a small or large herd of messy offspring. Kidner comments: “Orderliness can reach the point of sterility (uselessness). This proverb is not a plea for slovenliness, physical or moral, but for the readiness to accept upheaval, and a mess to clean up, as the price of growth.”