© Rev. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.
Proverbs 29:18 from the old KJV reads:
“ Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Prov. 29:18 KJV)
How many times have you and I heard people say something like “unless we have a goal in mind, we will fail”. They are used to the KJV where is says “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” But is that what it is really saying?
Of course, it is true that we must have a “vision” or “goal” to pursue something successfully, BUT that has nothing to do with this verse. The Hebrew word for “vision” is “ha-zon” in the sense of prophetic vision. A different word means “seer”. Actually, the old KJV was not far off, but the problem is that we have misunderstood the word “vision”. It does not mean a goal but refers to revelation from God. In other words, where there is neglect of revelation from God, the people “perish”. Then the word for “perish” really means to “cast off restraint”. Thus the ESV gives a more accurate translation:
“Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law” (Prov. 29:18 ESV)
When I was in high school, we had the Ten Commandments posted in the homerooms, and since the school was basically Christian and Jewish, we could agree on those Ten Words! But when people get rid of the Holy Scripture in public, they cast off restraint, which means they sin without restraint. Our whole society hates God’s written word because they hate the Triune God, and they especially hate His character as revealed in His commandments. We have fallen prey to values instead of loving His law. (Read Psalm 119, all of it!) We now want to suppress God’s words, such as homosexuality; choice instead of killing; we redefine marriage. In other words, the visible and audible presence of God’s word is being removed and so restraint not to sin is being removed.
PROVERBS 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6 NKJ)
This is the translation that most versions give, and it has history on its side. Here is my challenge: “Train up a child according to his own way, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Now it is a warning. I have no doubt that the principle of the old translation is correct, that if we rear our children in the Lord, they will love Him. My challenge is whether this particular verse actually says that. So how did I arrive at my translation and do others support it?
I was translating Hebrew full time in the summer of 1976, and we were working on a Hebrew interlinear, putting one English word under its Hebrew equivalent. I had been working many hours on Proverbs, and when I came to that verse I instinctively translated it the way I had all the other times in Proverbs. I double checked myself, and triple checked myself. I don’t recall if my translation was allowed to stand or not, but I maintained my position. Then years later, while teaching Hebrew in seminary (over 20 years), I came across a grammar that confirmed my position: Gary D. Pratico and Miles V. Van Pelt, Basics of Biblical Hebrew, 2001. On pages 284-285, they go into the Hebrew grammar, stating that the construction in Prov. 22:6 is very similar to other places in Proverbs, which had been my position for many years. Here are some other verses they cited along with Prov. 22:6 that give warnings about rearing children by letting them have their own way:
Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction. (Prov. 19:18 NKJ)
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him. (Prov. 22:15 NKJ)
The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother (Prov. 29:15 NKJ)
Regardless of the translation of Proverbs 22:6, we definitely have confirmation from the other verses sited that we have reared a generation of brats who want their own way. In the end, unless they repent, they will perish. AMEN. Ω