(Pro 12:10 KJV) A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
How can “tender mercies” (compassion NASB) (7356) be “cruel” (394)? Here the emphasis is on the “wicked” (7563) but the concept can be seen other places. I am currently watching a toddler and her cat. It is amazing what the cat will put up with. The child loves the cat. They are buddies. At the same time the little girl will sometimes try to pick up the cat by its head. This does not create a happy kitty.
The intent may be to show affection. The wickedness at this age is ignorance and lack of understanding but there is also an element of self centeredness and willfulness. Even when she is told “no” in no uncertain terms the child continues in what she wants to do. Hopefully she will grow out of that. Often we do not. In our hearts we are all cruel in the sense that we are self centered and see things through our own senses.
So? There are times to do things God’s way simply because He knows what is best. The ancient Israelites probably did not know the purpose of washing or avoiding certain foods. The reasons for the actions still had value. Obey even when you don’t know why.