Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox.
This agricultural example may be lost on many city dwellers, but the principle applies to everyone. Work animals, vehicles and other tools can help us accomplish a lot, but they all require maintenance. The oxen need to be fed, and the manure must be shoveled out. It was hard work to take care of the oxen, but the work they did made it all worthwhile to the farmers of Solomon’s day.
In the same way, maintaining a vehicle or a tool of our trade takes work, but it is necessary if we want to continue to use the vehicle or tool.
The proverb also implies that, if we try to avoid hard work, there won’t be enough food for the animals—or for us.
For related material about properly caring for the blessings God provides, see our section on “Finances.”