And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.
When was the last time you had a tall glass of cold goat milk? Not in a few days? You must be an American or European, for the rest of the world knows that goat milk is very acceptable and likely superior to cow milk. Some of the most esteemed cheeses in the world are made from goat milk. Let the Bible open your eyes. You have missed something important in other cultures, and which was important in Solomon’s time.
The Bible does not address goat milk elsewhere, except to prohibit boiling a young goat in its mother’s milk, an unnatural act of cruelty (Ex 23:19; 34:26; Deut 14:21). The Bible mentions sheep milk (Deut 32:14), which is also used in other cultures; and of course, it mentions cow milk (Deut 32:14; I Sam 6:7,10; II Sam 17:29), which some ignorantly think is the only animal milk fit for use, as if cow mammary secretions were sacred.
Did Solomon, the wisest king ever, know something that we do not know today? Might Americans and Europeans be wrong, thinking of this animal as the “stinking goat,” and presuming the milk must taste “goaty,” “strong,” “wild,” or “nasty.” The facts are these: goat milk is very white, and with proper feeding conditions, it is sweeter than cow milk.
Goat milk is marginally superior to cow milk nutritionally, as a quick survey of available research will show. It is higher in protein and fat, and lower in sugar, which are all advantages. However, the fat and protein in goat milk are of different compositions and more readily assimilated by humans. The fat in goat milk has smaller globules, different chain lengths of its fatty acids, and is naturally suspended without homogenization.
Humans are able to digest goat milk more easily than cow milk, and most of those that have allergies to cow milk will not have them with goat milk. Infants that cannot even digest their own mother’s milk, or cow’s milk, will often be able to thrive on goat milk. Goat milk can be found in America or Europe at most health food stores.
A single goat, which is relatively small and does not require much space, can produce enough milk for a family. For these reasons, the goat has been called “the poor man’s cow.” A good milker can produce a gallon a day, and commercial goats fed carefully and milked aggressively can produce two gallons a day.
What is the lesson? The context is Solomon’s exhortation to his son to be diligent in knowing the condition of his flocks and herds. Observe the earlier reference to his son (Pr 27:11), the singular pronouns “thou” and “thy” (Pr 27:23,27), the plural of flocks and herds (Pr 27:23), the mention of riches and crown (Pr 27:24), and reference to maidens. This is not an ordinary goat farmer being addressed, but a rich prince, Solomon’s son.
Solomon’s proverbs are addressed first to his son, for he sought to train him to be a wise king, as his father David had taught him (Pr 4:1-9). There are 27 addresses of Solomon to his son or children (Pr 1:8; 4:1; etc.). The proverbs were then for the rest of the nation (Eccl 12:9-10). In the one before you, Solomon exhorted his son directly, you indirectly. It is your wisdom to consider the privilege and opportunity to learn from the wisest king.
Wise men care about sourcing basic necessities like food and clothing, about the details of their business or profession, and do not delegate without personal oversight. Solomon wrote elsewhere, “Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field” (Eccl 5:9). This was a wise exhortation, for kings are distracted by affairs of state and the temptations to luxurious waste of the powerful and wealthy (Eccl 2:4-10).
It was not enough for a king to be knowledgeable and proficient in building palaces, overseeing military training, or keeping up a harem of many wives. A wise king would be concerned about the basic production for his table, that of his household, and that of his staff. For it was these things on which he and his citizens depended. David was such a king, for he had well appointed men in charge of his flocks and herds (I Chron 27:29-31).
Wise men carefully assess their business and/or profession, for economic and political fortunes can change (Pr 27:23-24). They do not delegate without review; they do not presume on the future. Consider Boaz checking on his subordinates (Ruth 2:4-5). Your means of income must be analyzed critically, with a prudent view of the future (Pr 22:3; 27:12). Neither business success nor political popularity is guaranteed (Pr 27:24; 23:5).
Solomon gave an economic lesson by considering the produce of the field and goats’ milk (Pr 27:23-27). He taught his son and citizens the importance of caring for business details and to be conscientious of basic production of food and clothing. A prudent man protects his source of basic necessities to support himself and his family. Do you have enough goats’ milk for everyone depending on you? And will you have it tomorrow?
The wisdom here is part of being diligent in business (Rom 12:11; I Thess 4:11-12). A business or profession is a gift from God, and it should be used and maintained with careful thought and foresightful management. Are you diligent in analyzing and managing your business, career, consumption, continuing education, credit, insurance, investments, job situation, liquidity, retirement, risks, savings, security, taxes, will, etc.?
Prudent men will inspect and manage the fundamental aspects of a business or enterprise, whether a king or a farmer. Raw materials, basic means of production, compensation for employees, a happy and productive staff, and daily personal needs are all necessary to survival and success. Even a king must consider such matters. Wisdom regularly assesses a business or career to confirm the ability to continue into the future with basics covered.