Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.” The word “vision” here is speaking of a “divine revelation” from God. It would include both a “word from God” and the “ability to understand it.” In 1 Samuel 3:1 we read, “Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD before Eli. And word from the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent” (NASB). Here again the word “visions” refers to “revelations from God.” They were “rare” in those days, so God graciously raised up young Samuel and the Lord spoke to and through him to the nation of Israel. They desperately needed this, for without God’s word there was nothing to restrain the wickedness of the human heart.

It became apparent to all that the Lord was with Samuel and he was recognized as a true prophet. God used the revelations He gave to Israel through Samuel to exercise their consciences, and many repented and began to follow God’s Word once again. As they obeyed the Lord’s Word, they experienced the latter half of our verse, “Happy is he who keeps the law.” True joy comes when we obey God’s will as revealed in His precious Word! A famous chorus we often sing reflects that truth, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” Our blessed Lord Jesus taught this wonderful truth in John 13:17, “If you know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”

In Old Testament times, as we have seen, God was still giving new revelations to His people. Today, we are blessed beyond measure to have the completed Word of God in our hands! And yet, how little we appreciate and appropriate the truth that God has revealed. We saw that a “revelation” included the “ability to understand it,” so we need to have “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” what God is telling us in His Word. Paul prayed for this in Ephesians 1:17-18, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened.” Oh how we need this, dear brothers and sisters! It is so easy to read God’s Word and fail to meditate upon it, make it our own, and walk in the truth that is revealed. James wrote of this in James 1:22-24, “But be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he is.”

At times we read the Word and then we forget what we’ve just read. We do not “apply it in our daily walk” and so we’re like a man who glances into a mirror without any thought of acting on what the mirror may have revealed, like a “dirty face!” May we learn this lesson that James is teaching us and be determined to get the benefit from God’s Word by not only reading it, but understanding it and obeying it! Verse 25 goes on to say, “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James is teaching the same truth we saw in our verse in Proverbs, “Happy is he who keeps the law,” and the same truth the Lord uttered in the upper room, “If you know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” (157.1) (DO)