7th September 2012

The Dog Delusion

“As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly”
Proverbs 26:11 (NIV UK)

Dogs are remarkable animals. Using their keen sense of smell they search for survivors in collapsed buildings, detect drugs and firearms in police patrols, and, some say, locate tumours in the human body. Recently “Tucker” was in the news. He is the only dog in the world able to track the scent of an endangered group of killer whales that live off the north west coast of the US. As well as being born to sniff, dogs help humans in other ways, from bringing comfort to guiding the blind.

In the Bible, however, often dogs have a bad press. Let’s face it: they have some disgusting habits. When I was a boy I had a pet dog. He used lap up whatever he brought up, in the same way as a fool relishes his or her own silly words.

Solomon, of course, does not see things from the dog’s point of view, and I guess none of us can. Is it some primeval return to the days when the dog’s mother would regurgitate her food for her young to eat, as still happens today with wild dogs? Even some birds do it! Is it just an attempt to re-digest some undigested food? I read recently of an expensive restaurant where food is pre-chewed for the discerning eater. In some cultures mothers pre-masticate what they give to their infants. How different are we really?

From Solomon’s perspective this canine habit seems repulsive. It reminds him of fools. The fool says in his or her heart, “there is no God” (Psalm 53:1). A fool denies God’s priority in his or her life. Fools keep going back to their own philosophies and lifestyle. They repeat the same mistakes. The fool is deluded into thinking that his or her godless choices are reasonable. Peter said that anyone who rejects the grace of Christ and returns to a life not led by the Spirit is like a dog returning to its vomit, quoting this proverb (2 Peter 2:22).

So how do we break this cycle of folly? Stop returning to the vomit. Whatever sinful lifestyle we may relish, let’s not go there anymore. Maybe take a good lesson from dogs. My boyhood dog followed me everywhere through thick and thin. He was a faithful friend. So let’s follow Jesus no matter where he leads us.  Let Jesus guide you, just as a faithful dog is led by its loving owner.

Be faithful to Jesus.

Prayer
Jesus, be my guide and help me not to return to a godless lifestyle.
Amen

Study by James Henderson

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