4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. – Proverbs 14:4
I don’t think I had ever paid much attention to this verse before, despite the great numbers of times that I have read through Proverbs over the years, until I heard some offhand remarks about it from one of my favorite musicians a couple of years ago. Since then, I have seen at least one other commentary that I enjoyed that took up the topic. It is kind of a funny proverb with a serious point. Life is messy. We would like for everything to be clean and easy, but we will seldom get both. An ox (or oxen) can get a lot of work done and take a lot of burden away from the farmer, but he (or they) also will make a lot of work in the form of a stall that needs to be mucked out periodically. There is no way to get things done without dealing with some kind of mess. Sometimes you get to pick the mess you deal with and other times you don’t. Either way, if you are alive, there will be a mess. Praise God for the messy blessings of living.