© 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.