“Where there is no vision the people perish”

Excellent article by Chris Brauns that demonstrates the need for in context interpretation / application of scripture and the [sometimes] difference in translation:

“Where there is no vision the people perish,” the King James Version translation of Proverbs 29:18, is one of the most misunderstood and misapplied verses in the Bible.

Christian leadership books often quote Proverbs 29:18 as a rationale for a church writing a vision statement.  The KJV version reads, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” This wording fits nicely for those who want to persuade others regarding the need for a vision statement.

While it is good for leaders to communicate vision, Proverbs 29:18 is not talking about a leader’s vision.  Rather, “vision” here refers to special revelation and the principle is that that apart from God’s Word, society quickly spins into moral chaos.

The ESV gives this translation of Proverbs 29:18.

Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law (Proverbs 29:18, ESV).

The word translated “prophetic vision” refers to special revelation or God’s Word.[1] The word translated “cast off restraint”[2] carries the idea of there being a total loss of social order. It is the same word used in Exodus 32:25 to describe the Israelite’s frenzy during the Golden Calf disaster. The NIV translation reads:

Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies (Exodus 32:25, NIV).

If a people do not hear God’s Word, then we can expect society to break down and even local churches to cast off restraint.[3] “Social harmony and restraint cannot be achieved without the exhortations of the prophets and the teaching of the law.”[4] Public morality depends on knowing the law of God.[5] Fabarez argues that the reason there is so much immorality in evangelicalism today is because God’s Word is not preached.[6]

See the article with references here:  http://goo.gl/OM81Kq

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