Chapter 29, verse 18 said, “Where there is no understanding of the Word of the Lord, the people do whatever they want to, but happy is he who keeps the law.” The NIV renders it this way: “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.” The English Standard Version says, “18Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” And for good measure, the King James Version translateth this verse thusly: “18Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”
I always like to look at several translations when I do a Bible study. It helps me get a better grasp of what is being taught. And I think the different translations here help to illuminate what God is telling us in this verse.
Really, the verse encapsulates what we learned as we were reading through the book of Judges, doesn’t it? If you’ve been with me for more than a few weeks, you’ll remember that there were several times in Judges where the text said something like, “And there were no kings in the land.” In other words, there was no one to lead the people, with the implication being “no one with an understanding of the Word of God.” And since the people were free to do as they wanted, many terrible things happened.
When I was young and naive, I trusted the wisdom of the people. I believed that here in the United States, the voting public would make right decisions. I no longer believe that. Maybe it was true in the past, when our elected leaders (at least in public) honored the Word of God. Now that the Bible is all but banned in the halls of government and our leaders care more for pleasing lobbyists than doing what is right, the public have cast off restraint. There seems to no longer be an overarching God fearing moral compass in the land. People without a respect and reverence of the Lord and His Word are, as a group, selfish and rebellious. One has only to look at recent news reports to see examples of that.
It is not until we fall on our knees and confess our sin and rebellion, and once again look to the Author of life and law will we see peace in our land and in our world. I’ve already told you that I believe that we are in the last days, so I’m not holding my breath for this change to happen. But I will also be the first to admit that I could be wrong. God has brought rebellious nations back to himself many times in the past, and perhaps He’ll do it in the future. I believe that it is our job to pray for our nation and its people until our last dying breath, or until He returns.
Once more, let me read Proverbs 29:18. “Where there is no understanding of the Word of the Lord, the people do whatever they want to, but happy is he who keeps the law.”