Many management consultants have used this verse to tell their clients that their leaders need to provide a clear vision for the company. Otherwise, there is no “future” for the business; there is no direction for the team members.
So companies like Microsoft, who for a long time, had this as their vision – a computer on every desk top. Google’s mission is to organise the information in the world. And management consultants make a lot of money helping companies develop their vision, mission and values. Is this a misuse of Proverbs 29:18?
What exactly does this verse mean? The ESV translated Prov 29:18 as “Where there is no prophetic vision, the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law”. (See the many different translations provided in the list below).
In the Old Testament, prophets were God’s mouthpiece to convey His will to the people. If God does not speak, if God does not give directions on what pleases Him, the people will do what is sinful. Hence, the verse was referring to prophetic revelation that guides the conduct of the people. And they are blessed when they keep these laws revealed by God.
In our context today, we need faithful preaching & teaching of God’s word to guide us on how we should live. If this is lacking in the local Church, the members will behave like the people did in the days of the Judges where “…there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” – Judges 21:3
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. – Job 1:1
Job was known to be blameless & upright, one who feared God & shunned evil. He was not a “full-time” priest. He had his own business – consisting of flock, real estate & other possessions. And he conducted himself as one who feared God and shunned evil. What a testimony for our emulation!
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” Job 1:8
It is interesting to see here that God was “proud” of His servant Job. He described him as “..a blameless & upright man, one who fears God & shuns evil..” Aren’t these virtues bestowed upon Job by the grace of God? Yet He attributes them to Job. This is the great mystery of God’s sovereignty versus man’s responsibility. Accept it, submit to it and praise God for it. It will keep us humbly dependent on Him.
“And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.” Neh 8:12
The people gathered to listen to the exposition of God’s word. And “…they understood the words that were declared to them“. What was the effect of understanding the words declared to them? They “..rejoiced greatly”. When the word of God is clearly preached and taught, they give joy to our hearts….the joy of the Lord. And there will be great rejoicing. When it is not explained clearly, the people will be dull and unfulfilled. How sad it is when we hear but cannot understand…how sad it is when the word is not clearly declared. What great joy is missed.
Yes, it is the Lord who decides whether to bless the declaration of His word. Yet, the preparation for that declaration rests with the preachers. How important it is that we should pray for the preachers! How important it is that we should pray that the hearts of the listeners may be prepared to hear. Yes, the most boring sermons can be used by the Holy Spirit to bring about a revival. But we are not called to deliver boring sermons. Because the word of God is exciting and clear. And so, we must explain it in simplicity and absolute clarity and let God use it for His purpose and glory.
And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered. 2 Chr 31:21
This verse is speaking about King Hezekiah. The verse ends with 3 words “So he prospered.” What is the reason that King Hezekiah prospered? It was because he sought his God with all his heart.
Let us be reminded that this is the way to true happiness. Hezekiah’s material prosperity was the by-product of his diligent seeking of God. The joy he had was not so much in the material experience of his prosperity but the delight he had in the presence of God as he sought Him. Let us emulate the example of King Hezekiah.