VISION OF JOY
Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”
The beginning of a New Year is always a time of renewed commitments. Brethren, my heart’s desire for you this year is to experience the truth of Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Sometimes we get so caught up in the term “vision” (the secular and biblical sense) that we forget the end result of this wise teacher’s text—happy is he! There are two vital components to experiencing the happiness or joy of the Lord. We are reminded of two commands: know God’s Word and keep it!
The word “vision” is the revelation (ḥāzôn) a prophet receives; you could translate it, where there is no revelation or word from God the people perish. “The people perish” does not refer to unsaved people dying in sin. The verb perish (pāra‘) means to cast off restraint. So the verse is stating that without God’s Word people abandon themselves to their own sinful ways; these ways lead to guilt and sadness. On the other hand, keeping (i.e. guarding and obeying) God’s Law brings happiness. The word “happy” is the same word in Psalm 1 for “blessed.”
The wise teacher is telling us that we must have a clear vision of God’s truth and a determined effort to obey it in order to pursue and experience happiness and joy in the Lord. Jesus said this in Luke 11:28, “Blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it.” In Hosea 4:6 God repeats this thought from the negative direction, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” If we, as fathers, mothers, and grandparents, have no desire or love for God’s Word, we can affect the next generation negatively.
When we get God’s vision we get God’s perspective. The word, “where,” as used in Proverbs 29:18,“Where there is no vision, the people perish,) obviously means wherever—so this verse speaks of anywhere, at all times, universally, personally, objectively. The key word of the text is vision! What is one way to understand vision according to the Apostle Paul? Paul said to the Colossians in chapter 1, verse 9, “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” He prayed that they might know God’s will and do it; he prayed that they would get God’s perspective. I could tell you to pray specifically for a certain request for your own life, but I won’t. I encourage you to pray for God to give you a personal vision regarding your spiritual growth. Ask Him to show you the area in which you need to focus your growth and knowledge of God’s Word.
Personal vision brings motivation in the life of a devoted Christian and motivation brings spiritually productive action. Everything begins with vision! (John 4:34-35; Matthew 9:36-38). I have collected many quotes that might help: “You will be what you see—but what you do not see—you cannot be!” “You will become what you behold—but what you do not behold, you cannot become! Or you could say—“What you look at lovingly, longingly, and lastingly, you will become like.” Personal vision will require faith and hard work to succeed. Your personal vision of what God would have you to be will help you to be Christ-like.
Based on Proverbs 28:19, I pray that you will know God’s will and do it, and that you may experience His joy and strength (Nehemiah 8:10). This is just one aspect of knowing the Word of God and doing it. Our memory verses for this year will focus on joy and gladness as we walk with God. Joy is not the goal, but knowing and walking with God is our goal! This year, I will emphasize joy in fellowship with regard to hospitality. I will emphasize joy in spiritual growth through small groups or “growth groups.” Let us join together for a vision of joy in the Lord!