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Proverbs 29:18  (King James Version)

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<< Proverbs 29:17   Proverbs 29:19 >>

Proverbs 29:18

Proverbs 29:18 in the New Living Bible says, "When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild." It does not mean that those without vision were "screaming Mimi's" running around tearing their hair out or something of that nature. It simply means that those without the revelation of God, those without godly vision, live purposeless lives. Their lives are lived lawlessly and in vanity - without direction. Therefore, for a group to be unified, all must have the same vision of where to go in life. We cannot do that until we all believe the same things.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 5): Ephesians 4 (B)

Proverbs 29:18

Vision - having well-formed goals - is an absolute necessity to anybody who is going anywhere. Vision in this verse can be translated "revelation," which in turn means "divine guidance." If one would recast this proverb into modern English, it would read something like this: "Without divine guidance, people cast off restraint."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sanctification and the Teens

Proverbs 29:18

The Living Bible paraphrases the first phrase, "Where there is ignorance of God the people run wild." For us, that ignorance is gone because of God's calling. We have a prophetic vision, and we discipline ourselves to restrain human nature, to keep it from exercising its will. Thus, we are now governing ourselves as a normal part of life. This has to be, or we will not be prepared for God's Kingdom. We must do as Christ did.

We need to be a people with a sharp vision of where we are headed in life. The gospel tells us why we were born and provides us with detailed knowledge on how to prepare for that goal. The relationship with our God frames these elements into a vision that becomes our goal in life and helps to motivate us to do what is good in God's sight.

Hebrews 11:10 says that Abraham "waited for the city . . . whose Builder and Maker is God." This was a major part of his motivating vision. Hebrews 11:27 tells us that Moses "endured as seeing Him who is invisible." These men followed the vision that formed as a result of their relationship with God and what He taught them. As we walk with Christ, we are led along similar paths.

They believed thrillingly good news that provided them with the motivation to submit their lives to God's will. I Corinthians 9:24-27 shows us Paul's example of what every person who has achieved a great goal has had to learn and do:

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Those who achieve must be focused on a goal to a degree given to no other area of life. They must be determined, disciplined, and sacrificial enough to become exceptionally skilled at what they hope to achieve.

However, regarding what we hope to achieve in becoming part of the Kingdom of God, even going all out is not enough! We cannot achieve our goal without Jesus Christ, our sovereign God, Creator, Savior, and High Priest, by whom we are saved because He is alive and oversees our lives. He supplies every need for salvation and sustains us along the way. Salvation is absolutely, totally impossible without help from Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty (Part Four)

Proverbs 29:18

This takes place among God's covenant people, those who should have known God and were ready to do His will. But the Word of God was rare in those days, as this takes place during the period of the judges when every man did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25). The people were not submitting to what they knew of God and His purpose.

The word vision means "revelation," suggesting that one's attitude toward what God has revealed to him will determine what his life will produce. The book of Judges exposes the people's attitudes toward God's revelation to them through the prophets and judges God sent to them. Since they did not have a good attitude toward what He had revealed, the Word of God was rare.

The same word, "vision," appears in Proverbs 29:18, "Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint." The Living Bible gives a more accurate sense: "Where there is ignorance of God, the people run wild." This does not mean that the people run around like madmen but that they move through their lives without direction or purpose.

I Samuel 3:1 and Proverbs 29:18 come from different settings. One is in the setting of God's covenant people—people who should have known—and the other describes people who are unconverted. What happens to the one, though, is the same as what happens to the other: The people live aimless, purposeless, fruitless lives.

At this point, the attitude, the understanding, becomes so important. Since we Christians are also a covenant people, our attitudes toward what God has given us is vital to using our calling properly. Inherent to God's revealed will is that blessings will come, as represented by the word "happy" mentioned at the end of Proverbs 29:18: "Happy is he who keeps the law."

Do we believe that God has given us a revelation? If so, what is our attitude toward it? The answers to these questions are so important that their value cannot be over-estimated. We need this revelation to have a sense of direction and well-being about life.

The times we live in are oppressive and depressive, and it is easy to allow them to give us a sense of hopelessness. However, we have God's revelation of the mystery of life! We possess the most valuable knowledge that can be given to human beings regardless of their stations in life. We were not behind the door when God handed out the gifts! He gave them to us, bypassing the high achievers, the great, the mighty of this world (I Corinthians 1:26). God has called few of them. Instead, He called those who thought they were behind the door and hidden from His view (verses 27-28).

We have what would make everybody's life complete—including the high achievers, the rich and famous, the powerful and intelligent—because it would give them the proper guidance to channel their gifts into something truly useful. We have not been short-changed. Whereas they may be rich in power, intelligence, prestige, fame, social influence, and money, we are rich in what really matters regarding life and its purpose.

John W. Ritenbaugh

Proverbs 29:18

A direct link exists between ignorance of God - either willful or unintentional - and societal breakdown. This is the result of evolution: not a more advanced society with answers to all of life's problems, not a utopia of peaceful coexistence, not a world of highly refined beings who have ascended to the next "plane" of existence, but degeneration. The ultimate result of the theory of evolution - and Satan's intention - is the destruction of humanity and all semblance of order. We are increasingly seeing this breakdown within our schools and universities, on our highways, and in our neighborhoods. Mankind is certainly not evolving into anything better.

David C. Grabbe
What Evolution Really Means

Proverbs 29:18

Modern versions replace "vision" with "revelation," but the choice is negligible because God's revelation is the true and most important vision (foresight, discernment, insight) for our lives. The Living Bible paraphrases this verse as, "Where there is ignorance of God, the people run wild, but what a wonderful thing it is for a nation to know and keep His laws!" An old English version based on the Latin Vulgate provides a fascinating rendering in light of what has happened recently in the church: "When prophecy shall fail, the people shall be scattered." Adam Clarke comments, "Where divine revelation, and the faithful preaching of the sacred testimonies, are neither reverenced nor attended, the ruin of that land [or church] is at no great distance."

All these renderings show a measure of cause and effect. The vision a person has is the cause, and the effect is the way he then conducts his life. Where there is a true vision, or revelation of God, it motivates those who have reverence for it to conduct their lives in a way that produces good fruit - happiness. If the vision that guides is not from God, the people are motivated to "run wild" or "cast off restraint." That is, they will not discipline themselves to take proper responsibility, and the result is they perish - quite a contrast to the satisfying result of keeping God's laws!

There can be no doubt about what vision produces. It enhances our perception of what will occur or be produced if a certain course is followed. Thus, it increases our discernment and sharpens our judgment about which way we should go. If the vision, the foreseen result, seems good to a person, he is motivated to proceed in that direction. When vision and the fear of God combine, they produce a strong stimulus to obey Him. Vision gives a mental picture of results, and the deep and abiding respect for God produces a compelling inclination to please Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Two): Vision

Proverbs 29:18

The New King James Version says, "Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law."

Normally, people do not want to perish. We are in the church because we do not want to perish either. This assumed that we have a vision, there has been a revelation to us, of a purpose to life. If the revelation or the vision is not there, what do people do? They cast off restraint. The vision, the revelation of God, makes a person walk a certain path. If it were not for that revelation or vision, we would at the very least passively wander off the path.

The Living Bible translates this verse, "Where there is no revelation, the people run wild"! It is a bit more active and a harsher interpretation, and perhaps this paraphrase is actually more descriptive of what is happening in the world. If people do not have the vision of what God is going to accomplish through the resurrection of the dead, they cast off all restraint, run wild - they do whatever comes to mind, whatever hope, whatever desire, whatever longing strikes them. Does that make them stick to the straight and narrow path that leads to the Kingdom of God? Of course not. They are constantly going contrary to the true direction, off the path.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Resurrection From the Dead

Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Proverbs 29:18:

1 Samuel 3:1
1 Samuel 3:1
1 Samuel 3:1
Proverbs 14:12
Proverbs 22:3
Proverbs 29:18
Proverbs 29:18
Proverbs 29:18
Ecclesiastes 3:11
1 Corinthians 7:14
2 Corinthians 4:17


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