“When there is no prophecy, the people cast off restraint. But as for he who guards instruction, happiness is his.”
– Proverbs 29:18
It’s the first part of that verse that’s really well known, when there is no prophecy the people cast off restraint. Now, the reason it’s often misunderstood … Other translations say, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” So often times people think, “Okay, well we just need vision. We need a vision for where we’re going in the future. If we don’t have vision for where we’re going in the future, then we will perish.”
What’s necessary is not a vision that we create for the future but revelation from God.
Yeah, there’s some truth to that, but that’s really not what this verse is teaching. What this verse is teaching is much closer to what the translation I just used is saying, “When there is no prophecy, the people cast off restraint.” Even when we see translations that talk about vision, it’s talking about revelation from God. What’s necessary, according to Proverb 29:18 is not some vision that we come up with for the future. What’s necessary is revelation from God, the Word of God, prophecy from God.
We need God to speak to us. We need to hear what he says to us, and it’s that that keeps us from perishing, from casting off restraint. It’s why it goes on in the last part of the verse to say to say, “As for he who guards instruction, happiness is his.” As for he who guards instructioning God’s Word, learning from God’s revelation, when we guard this, then we will be happy.
Proverbs 29:18 Focuses on our Need for the Word of God
The whole picture in Proverbs 29:18 is that we need the Word of God. I’m reading that, and I’m just finding myself praying, “God, I need your Word,” and praying for us, “God, help us to hear your Word.” We know that if we don’t hear your Word, if we done heed your Word, then we will be casting off restraint, that we will perish, and that happiness will not be ours. We will miss out on your design for us if we don’t hear from you and heed what you are saying.
Proverbs 29:18 Uncovers our True Desire to Hear God
So, we pray, “Help us to hear your Word.” It’s part of the purpose, even of this podcast, just continually to say, “Oh, God, we need your Word. We need to hear from you. We need to pray according to your Word and to obey your Word. Call us to want to live in your Word and to want to talk about your Word all the time.
We want to mediate on your Word. We want to read your Word daily and to memorize your Word, because we know when we’re not listening to you, then we’ll perish. When we’re not listening to you, we’ll cast off restraint. We want to guard instruction in our lives, and we trust that when we do, when we hear your Word, when we heed your Word, that we will be happy in your Word. So, we thank you for your Word, oh God, and we pray that you would help us to hear it and to heed it every day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”