Proverbs 29:18

I. THE WANT OF COMMANDING RELIGIOUS TEACHING. The great prophets of Israel were the great instructors of the people. They declared Jehovah's living oracles; they made clear the eternal principles of the moral law; they forecast what must be the future under moral conditions. The Christian preacher has succeeded to the office of the Jewish prophet. Woe to the nation if the supply of preachers ceases! if, sunk in material interests, they are allowed to forget that the "Word of the Lord" lives and endures, and obedience to it must be the foundation of all private blessing, all public prosperity!

II. THE WANT OF FIRM POLICY AND CONDUCT. (Ver. 19.) There always will be a class more or less of "slaves," who must be governed, not by mere rhetoric or the appeal to feeling, but by the knowledge that words will be backed by deeds. God means what he says. The laws of nature are no mere abstract statements of truth; they are stern and solemn facts, which cannot be defied with impunity. And the lawless must understand that what ought to be shall be.

III. THE WANT OF CALM DELIBERATION. (Ver. 20.) Whether in private or in public life, this too may he a ruinous defect. Thus rash enterprises are begun, hostilities break out without warning, a lifelong alienation or the misery of a generation may spring from the passion or the pique of the moment.

IV. WANT OF DUE SEVERITY IN DISCIPLINE. (Ver. 21.) The exegesis of the verse certainly points to this meaning. Men are stung by the ingratitude or contumacy of those whom they had weakly petted, and whose faults they had nourished by their smiles. But human nature will only respond to just and true treatment; and injurious kindness will reap a thorny crop of ingratitude.

V. WANT OF SELF-CONTROL AND OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. (Vers. 22, 23.) (For the first, see Proverbs 15:18; Proverbs 28:25.) Wrath is the very hot bed of transgression and every "evil work." And self-esteem is a neighbour vice. So near are extremes in life: the moment we are highest in our own imagination we are really lowest in power, in position, in prospect. "He that would build lastingly must lay his foundation low. As man falls by pride, he recovers by humility." And the more God honours men, the more they should humble themselves. - J.

Where there is no vision, the people perish.
What makes a people very unhappy with respect to the concerns of their souls? The want of vision puts a people in very unhappy circumstances. By vision is understood prophecy. By prophecy is meant the preaching, expounding, and applying the Word of God. Doctrine: Though the want of the ministry of the Word makes a people very unhappy, yet it is not the having of it, but the right improving of it that makes them happy.

I. DEPLORABLE IS THE CASE OF THOSE WHO ARE DEPRIVED OF THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD. What makes the case so deplorable? The original word means, the people are naked, they are left in a bare condition (Exodus 22:25). They are stripped of their ornaments, to their shame. They are stripped of their armour, left naked in the midst of danger. They are stripped of the means of their defence. Hence they are exposed in a special manner to the subtlety and violence of their spiritual enemies, without the ordinary means of help. Where there is no vision the people go backward. They leave their first love, their first ways in religion; they fall into a spiritual decay and apostasy. The people are drawn away: from their God and from their duty. The people are idle — they give over their work. The people perish — die for lack of instruction; are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

II. THE MERE HAVING THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD IS NOT SUFFICIENT TO MAKE A PEOPLE HAPPY. The people may have it, and yet get no saving benefit from it. Outward privileges make no man a happy man. The mere having the Word will aggravate the condemnation of those that have it and walk not answerably to it.


1. Faith in Jesus Christ.

2. Holiness of life.This improvement will make happy souls here and hereafter. Here, in peace with God, pardon of sin, all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; and hereafter in eternal salvation. It bids fair for prosperity in earthly things. It gives happiness under the crosses and trials of this world. It puts a happiness into the relations in which we stand. Directions for improving the ministry of the Word:

1. Pray much for a real benefit from ordinances.

2. Diligently attend upon ordinances.

3. Meditate upon what you hear, and converse with one another about it.

4. Set yourselves humbly to obey the truths delivered from the Lord's Word, embracing them by faith.

5. Put your hand to the Lord's work in your several stations in your families and among those with whom you converse, to prosecute the great ends of the gospel.

(T. Boston, D D.)

I. WHERE THERE IS NO VISION OF THE PRESENT WORKING OF CHRIST IN THE WORLD, CHARITY AND HOPE FADE. The progress of the age is Christ's work. Beneficial operations of all kinds are His present-day miracles. The sympathy of the age, its mission, its humanity, its sacrifice, its enthusiasm for progress, is Christ's doing. Let us see Him in the past and in the present. Then we shall have a nobler faith, a larger charity, and a radiant hopefulness.

II. WHERE THERE IS NO VISION OF THE DIVINE FATHERHOOD, DEVOTION DECAYS. Our devotional life accords with the conception of God we hold up to our attention. If we think of God as stern, arbitrary, partial, we cannot experience love, worship, trust, sacrifice. The human heart is constituted to love only the lovable; to worship only the perfect and benevolent; to trust only the just and true.

III. WHERE THERE IS NO VISION OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE, PRACTICAL ENERGY DECLINES. Give up the idea of a Supreme Mind caring for all, and life is not Worth living. Let the vision of the all-embracing providence of God be clear, and life will be transfigured. All Christian workers are thus sustained. Failure, loss, rejection, may be the record on the visible side; but faith sees on the unseen side an all-comprehending spiritual kingdom, and says, "All things work together for good."

IV. WHERE THERE IS NO VISION OF TRUTH AND FACT, KNOWLEDGE DECAYS. As tradition and conservation prevail truth becomes a dead carcase. The hour for revival, for reform, is come, and the minds that see the truth lead the new movement. The dreams of seers renew the life of the world's thought.

V. WHERE THERE IS NO VISION OF THE POSSIBILITIES OF HUMAN NATURE, SYMPATHY DECAYS. Man has instinctively recognised his fellow as spiritual, as free, as immortal, as possessing unlimited capacities of progress, and as the object, consequently, of intense interest and of unlimited love. The vision of that ideal of man is the inspiration of all philanthropy.

VI. WHERE THERE IS NO VISION OF DUTY, HOLINESS DECLINES. Man is the subject of relations. The highest relation he maintains is to Christ. His life-care is the duty he owes to Christ. As we have that vision before us, we shall ennoble all we do. VII. THE VISION OF HEAVEN SAVES HOPE FROM PERISHING. The inspiration of all progress is hope. The most fruitful hope we can cherish is the perfection of mankind in the celestial life in fellowship with Christ. Such a vision ennobles, sanctifies, vitalises, lights up the present with heavenly radiance, and makes death the gate of life.

(T. Matthews.)

I. TRUE VISION IS A REVELATION FROM GOD. A communication not furnished by nature; not the product of human intellect, or imagination, or fancy; not the "tradition of the elders," however venerable; but a special unfolding of the Divine nature and government, adapted to the moral exigencies of the race. Such a communication is possible. Such is probable —

1. From conflicting indications of the Divine character furnished by nature.

2. The universally felt moral necessities of man. Such is actually accomplished, as the whole body of Christian evidence attests.

II. THERE MANY PLACES WHERE, AS YET, THIS VISION IS NOT. Where it is not known. Where it is not published. Where it is not believed.


1. It alone reveals a Saviour and a salvation adapted to man.

2. It alone is associated with spiritual power to deliver man from the bondage, and misery, and guilt, and doom, of sin. The vision of God is to them that possess it a most precious thing. They who possess it not ought to be the objects of the deepest compassion. They who do possess it are bound, by every consideration of gratitude and pity, to send it to those who do not.

(J. M. Jarvie.)

The text presents two facts concerning redemptive revelation.

I. Its ABSENCE IS A GREAT CALAMITY. "Where there is no vision, the people perish." The word "perish" has been variously rendered: some read "will apostatise," others "are made naked," others "are dispersed," others "are become disorderly." All renderings agree in expressing the idea of calamity, and truly is it not a sad calamity to be deprived of the Bible?

II. ITS REGULATIVE EXPERIENCE IS A GREAT BLESSING. "He that keepeth the law, happy is he." This "vision" is not an abstraction or a speculative system — it is a "law"; it comes with Divine authority; it demands obedience; it is not the mere subject for a creed, but the code for a life; its aim is to regulate all the movements of the soul. It is only those who are ruled by it who are made happy, those who have it and are not controlled by it will as assuredly perish. It is not the hearers of the law who are just before God, but the doers of the law. Who is the happy man? Not the man who has the "vision" and does not study it, nor the man who studies it and never reduces it to practice: it is the man who translates the "vision" into his life. "He that keepeth the law, happy is he." There is no heaven for man but in obedience to God.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

The vision here is acquaintance with God and the things of the invisible world. Vision became almost synonymous with revelation .Where there is no Bible, there can be no vision. To talk of preparing a nation for the reception of the Bible, by first of all civilising that nation is to betray ignorance of what has produced the degeneracy of humanity, and mistrust of the engine which God has placed in our hands. The civilisation must and will follow the reception of the Bible. Notice the marginal rendering, "the people is made naked." The people is stripped, the people has no clothing in which to appear before God, if you take away revelation. They may attempt a righteousness of their own, and think to cover themselves with a covering which their own hands have woven. But the text is most emphatic in denouncing such schemes and hopes. We must put on Christ, and be clothed with His righteousness. If we would make s right and full use of the disclosures and statements of our Bible, we must, it would seem, have the things of redemption and futurity presented with the same distinctness and vividness to the internal organs, as the things of the world are to the external. This is the great triumph of spirit over matter. Speak to those whose religion is more than nominal, who do behold Christ with the eye of the soul. We account for much of that slow progress in piety, which you both observe in others and lament in yourselves, on the principle that you are but seldom occupied with contemplations of the invisible world. Let us not be wanting in diligence in using the telescope that has been entrusted to us to aid us in seeing the unseen.

(H. Melvill, B.D.)

The question suggested by the text is, Can we see? Were we made to see? Is all else related by law of adaptation to man on this earth save God Himself who made the earth and man? It is vision that decides our scale in this world, and our honour and glory in the world to come. For "ages men have believed that they were made to see and know God in His works and in His Word; that we have not only eyes, but objects; that we can hold intercourse with God — love Him, trust Him, and pray to Him. The peril of our age is no new peril. Materialism is as old as Sadducean Judaism. This is the great vital difference in men — vision. This it is that decides their principles, their ethics, their characters.

I. MATERIALISTIC IDEAS OF LIFE BLIND US TO THE TRUE VISION. We are in a world of material things. But we, Christians, build temples to the invisible Lord. We seek and we worship a Saviour whom, not having seen, we love. We judge morality to be more than utility. We walk by faith, not by sight. There is no true vision without the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

II. CHRIST IS THE REVEALER OF LIFE AND IMMORTALITY. These words contain two distinct truths. Life is the spiritual view of all things. Immortality is life in Christ beyond the grave.

III. CHARACTER IS DECIDED BY OUR VISIONS OF TRUTH. The right life comes from the right thought. If my life is to be redeemed and moulded by Divine influences, then my vision is all in all to me.

IV. PERISHING IS SEEN IN THIS PRESENT LIFE. Men do perish! Compared with what you might be, you are now perishing. Woe to that nation that has no eye to see the face of God in Christ!

(W. M. Statham.)

Man has spiritual wants as well as bodily wants, and he must have spiritual things to satisfy them. Temporal and visible things meet and satisfy all the wants of the body, but the soul must receive its sustenance from the invisible and the eternal. The spiritual world is a fact to the senses of the soul as truly as the material world is a fact to the bodily senses. Visions are as necessary for the soul as food for the body, and so heavenly visions were not God's gifts to one nation and for a limited time, but are to all countries and for all times. Godly men in our days are having visions exactly in the same sense as the seers and prophets of old; the difference is in degree, not in kind. But a distinction must be made between the seer in the highest sense and seers in a general sense. God inspires and gives special visions to a chosen few in different ages and countries. Note the powers of inward vision to which we give the names of insight and intuition — insight into human character, intuition of Divine principles — clear knowledge of what man is and how God will act. The original meaning of the word "saw," is to cleave, or split; then to see into, to see through, to get down beneath the surface of things and discover their real nature. What characterises the bulk of Hebrew visions is "penetrativeness." All the seers of the world are hard workers, and are active in their visions. Sometimes the seer does valuable service to the world by rediscovering some great revealed truth which had been hidden by the accretion of ages of erroneous human ideas and creeds. Luther was such an one. And we are to thank Heaven for seers like Carlyle, Ruskin, Beecher, Browning, and Tennyson, who fearlessly cleave old customs, shams, conventionalisms, dogmas, and creeds, and proclaim to the world, like the prophets of old, eternal and unchangeable truths. Note the mighty influence of heavenly visions on the world. What would have been the moral condition of the world if God had given no visions to holy and inspired men?

I. THE RESTRAINING POWER OF VISIONS. In the days of Samuel there was "no open vision." God mercifully raised him up, and gave him visions to enable him to check and restrain the ungodliness of his age. Our great want is more men of visions as political and. social reformers and preachers.

II. THE SUSTAINING POWER OF VISIONS. Men are sure to perish socially and spiritually if God does not mercifully grant them visions.

III. THE ENNOBLING INFLUENCE OF VISIONS UPON MEN'S CHARACTERS. The tendency of God's visions to men is to purify their thoughts, to elevate their spirits, to ennoble their characters. The objective in the visions gradually becomes subjective, as a part of the character. But you are not to expect these heavenly visions by sleeping and dreaming, but by holy meditation, fervent prayer, and strenuous effort to live the life of the Son of God.

IV. THE BLESSEDNESS OF OBEDIENCE TO THE HEAVENLY VISIONS. If we would know the highest joy of visions, we must obey them.

(Z. Mather.)

Man talks to God; that is prayer. God talks with man; that is inspiration. According to the sensational philosophy there is no vision, there is no invisible world, or at least we cannot know it directly and immediately. This takes all the glory out of life. Take out from man the power of perceiving the invisible and the eternal, and all life loses its life. God is no longer a Divine reality. He is only an opinion. The same philosophy which robs the universe of its God robs man of his soul. This philosophy is equally fatal to morals. There are no longer any great, eternal, immutable laws. Take vision out of religion, what have you left? You had a Church of Christ, now you have a Society of Ethical Culture.

I. IDEALS ARE REALITIES. What we call ideals are not conceptions we have created; they are realities we have discovered. The great laws of nature are not created by the scientists. They only formulate and express the laws of nature. The laws of harmony are eternal; and when the musician finds a new harmony, he finds what was before. In the ethical realm, the great laws of righteousness are not created; they are eternal. Moses did not make them, he only found forms in which to state them. God is not a thesis, an opinion, a theory, a supposition, created to account for phenomena; He is the great underlying reality of which all phenomena are the manifestation.

II. IMAGINATION IS SEEING. Science owes its progress to this power of vision. All the greatest men of science first saw dimly and imperfectly the invisible realities, then followed, tested, and tried their visions, and proved the reality of them. The great seers and prophets of all time have not been men who have created thoughts to inspire us; they have been men with eyes that saw, and they have helped also to see.

III. IDEALS BEING REALITIES, AND IMAGINATION SEEING, SCEPTICISM IS IGNORANCE. By scepticism is meant the doubt that scoffs at the invisible and eternal, not the mere questioning of a particular dogma. We are not to measure the truth by our capacity to see, but our capacity to see by the truth. The world needs nothing so much as men who will carry the spirit of vision into every phase of life. There are two classes of men in this world — drudges and dreamers. The man who works without vision, who is not lifted up by his thoughts out of mere material things, he is a drudge.

(Lyman Abbott.)

Blessed, Cast, Happiness, Happy, Keepeth, Keeping, Keeps, Law, Naked, O, Perish, Prophecy, Restraint, Revelation, Uncontrolled, Unrestrained, Vision
1. observations of public government
15. and of private
22. Of anger, pride, thievery, cowardice and corruption

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Proverbs 29:18

     1466   vision
     5874   happiness
     8117   discipleship, benefits
     8311   morality, and redemption
     8339   self-control
     8703   antinomianism

An Obscured vision
(Preached at the opening of the Winona Lake Bible Conference.) TEXT: "Where there is no vision, the people perish."--Proverbs 29:18. It is not altogether an easy matter to secure a text for such an occasion as this; not because the texts are so few in number but rather because they are so many, for one has only to turn over the pages of the Bible in the most casual way to find them facing him at every reading. Feeling the need of advice for such a time as this, I asked a number of my friends who
J. Wilbur Chapman—And Judas Iscariot

Two Ancient Proverbs
A Sermon (No. 3080) Published on Thursday, February 20th, 1908. Delivered by C.H. Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington on Lord's Day evening, March 29th, 1874. "The fear of man bringeth a snare; but whoso puteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe." --Proverbs 29:25. We have two ancient proverbs here; each of them is true as a separate proverb, and they are equally true when linked together. The independent proposition, that the fear of man bringeth a snare, is a truth which experience
C.H. Spurgeon—Sermons on Proverbs

The Baptismal Covenant Can be Kept Unbroken. Aim and Responsibility of Parents.
We have gone "to the Law and to the Testimony" to find out what the nature and benefits of Baptism are. We have gathered out of the Word all the principal passages bearing on this subject. We have grouped them together, and studied them side by side. We have noticed that their sense is uniform, clear, and strong. Unless we are willing to throw aside all sound principles of interpretation, we can extract from the words of inspiration only one meaning, and that is that the baptized child is, by virtue
G. H. Gerberding—The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church

But Sometimes a Peril to Eternal Salvation Itself is Put Forth against Us...
40. But sometimes a peril to eternal salvation itself is put forth against us; [2466] which peril, they cry out, we by telling a lie, if otherwise it cannot be, must ward off. As, for instance, if a person who is to be baptized be in the power of impious and infidel men, and cannot be got at that he may be washed with the laver of regeneration, but by deceiving his keepers with a lie. From this most invidious cry, by which we are compelled, not for a man's wealth or honors in this world which are
St. Augustine—Against Lying

Little Sarah Howley.
MISS SARAH HOWLEY, when she was between eight and nine years old, was carried by her friends to hear a sermon, where the minister preached upon Matt. xi, 30, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light;" in the applying of which scripture the child was mightily awakened, and made deeply sensible of the condition of her soul, and her need of Christ: she wept bitterly to think what a case she was in; went home, retired into a chamber, and upon her knees she wept and cried to the Lord as well as she could,
John Wesley—Stories of Boys and Girls Who Loved the Saviour

For, Concerning False Witness, which is Set Down in the Ten Commands of The...
36. For, concerning false witness, which is set down in the ten commands of the Law, it can indeed in no wise be contended that love of truth may at heart be preserved, and false witness brought forth to him unto whom the witness is borne. For, when it is said to God only, then it is only in the heart that the truth is to be embraced: but when it is said to man, then must we with the mouth also of the body bring forth truth, because man is not an inspector of the heart. But then, touching the witness
St. Augustine—On Lying

Palm Sunday
Text: Philippians 2, 5-11. 5 Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; 8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; 10 that
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. II

It Remains Then that we Understand as Concerning those Women...
33. It remains then that we understand as concerning those women, whether in Egypt or in Jericho, that for their humanity and mercy they received a reward, in any wise temporal, which indeed itself, while they wist not of it, should by prophetical signification prefigure somewhat eternal. But whether it be ever right, even for the saving of a man's life, to tell a lie, as it is a question in resolving which even the most learned do weary themselves, it did vastly surpass the capacity of those poor
St. Augustine—Against Lying

What are Evidences of Backsliding in Heart.
1. Manifest formality in religious exercises. A stereotyped, formal way of saying and doing things, that is clearly the result of habit, rather than the outgushing of the religious life. This formality will be emotionless and cold as an iceberg, and will evince a total want of earnestness in the performance of religious duty. In prayer and in religious exercises the backslider in heart will pray or praise, or confess, or give thanks with his lips, so that all can hear him, perhaps, but in such a
Charles G. Finney—The Backslider in Heart

God's Glory the Chief End of Man's Being
Rom. xi. 36.--"Of him and through him, and to him, are all things, to whom be glory for ever." And 1 Cor. x. 31--"Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." All that men have to know, may be comprised under these two heads,--What their end is, and What is the right way to attain to that end? And all that we have to do, is by any means to seek to compass that end. These are the two cardinal points of a man's knowledge and exercise. Quo et qua eundum est,--Whither to go, and what way to go.
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

How the Impatient and the Patient are to be Admonished.
(Admonition 10.) Differently to be admonished are the impatient and the patient. For the impatient are to be told that, while they neglect to bridle their spirit, they are hurried through many steep places of iniquity which they seek not after, inasmuch as fury drives the mind whither desire draws it not, and, when perturbed, it does, not knowing, what it afterwards grieves for when it knows. The impatient are also to be told that, when carried headlong by the impulse of emotion, they act in some
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great

Humility is the Root of Charity, and Meekness the Fruit of Both. ...
Humility is the root of charity, and meekness the fruit of both. There is no solid and pure ground of love to others, except the rubbish of self-love be first cast out of the soul; and when that superfluity of naughtiness is cast out, then charity hath a solid and deep foundation: "The end of the command is charity out of a pure heart," 1 Tim. i. 5. It is only such a purified heart, cleansed from that poison and contagion of pride and self-estimation, that can send out such a sweet and wholesome
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

How to Make Use of Christ as the Truth, when Error Prevaileth, and the Spirit of Error Carrieth Many Away.
There is a time when the spirit of error is going abroad, and truth is questioned, and many are led away with delusions. For Satan can change himself into an angel of light, and make many great and fairlike pretensions to holiness, and under that pretext usher in untruths, and gain the consent of many unto them; so that in such a time of temptation many are stolen off their feet, and made to depart from the right ways of God, and to embrace error and delusions instead of truth. Now the question is,
John Brown (of Wamphray)—Christ The Way, The Truth, and The Life

Characters and Names of Messiah
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. S uch was the triumphant exultation of the Old Testament Church! Their noblest hopes were founded upon the promise of MESSIAH; their most sublime songs were derived from the prospect of His Advent. By faith, which is the substance of things hoped for, they considered the gracious declarations
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

Many specimens of the so-called Wisdom Literature are preserved for us in the book of Proverbs, for its contents are by no means confined to what we call proverbs. The first nine chapters constitute a continuous discourse, almost in the manner of a sermon; and of the last two chapters, ch. xxx. is largely made up of enigmas, and xxxi. is in part a description of the good housewife. All, however, are rightly subsumed under the idea of wisdom, which to the Hebrew had always moral relations. The Hebrew
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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