The Apple Of The Eye Psalm 17:8

Keep me as the apple of the eye. - Psalm 17:8

What is the “apple of the eye”? It is the little round black spot in the very center which we call the pupil. Of all the parts of the eye that we can see, the pupil is the most important because it is through it that the light enters, and if anything happens to injure it seriously we become blind.

When the psalmist wants God to keep him very safe he asks Him to keep him as the apple of the eye. I wonder what he means by that?

1. Well, first I think he wants to be protected by a great many safeguards. If you read a little farther in the psalm you will see that the psalmist is surrounded by many fierce enemies, both seen and unseen. Some of them he compares to a lion “greedy of his prey” and “a young lion lurking in secret places,” and he feels that he needs to be specially taken care of.

Now the eye is a delicate organ and can very easily be hurt, but it is specially taken care of. God has taken pains to protect it.

Would you like to hear about some of its defenses?

Well, first there are the outworks—the eyebrows, and the eyelashes, and the eyelids. And what are their uses? The eyebrows prevent the moisture of the brow from running down into the eyes. That moisture is really poisonous and besides blurring our vision would injure our eyes. The eyelashes act as a sort of curtain to keep out small insects or specks of dust that might hurt. The eyelids are like strong swing doors that close immediately and involuntarily at the approach of danger.

Then the eyeball is surrounded by a bony socket which is like a strong wall all round it, and it rests on a sort of bed of fat on which it can move with ease and safety. Above the eyeball and a little to the outer side is the tear-gland which provides another safeguard. Every time we wink a tear from this gland pours over the surface of our eyes and washes the eyeball. You know how your eye waters if you get a fly or a bit of grit in it. That is just the tear-gland working extra hard to remove it.

So you see in how many different and wonderful ways the pupil of the eye is protected. And God keeps us in just as many and in just as wonderful ways. Every day we are being kept from dangers, and from evils, and from temptations of which we know nothing.

Do you know the hymn “Jesus, Lover of my soul”? There is a very interesting story connected with that hymn which Henry Drummond used to tell.

One Sunday evening some of the passengers on board a big Atlantic liner had met in the cabin to sing hymns. Later they began to sing “Jesus, Lover of my soul,” and one passenger, an American, heard behind him a very fine voice that seemed familiar to him. When the music stopped he turned round and asked the owner of the voice if he had fought in the Civil War. The man replied that he had fought on the Confederate side. Then the first man asked his new acquaintance if he, by any chance, had been at a certain place on a certain night. “Yes,” replied the other, “and while we were singing that hymn something that happened that night came back to me very vividly. I was on sentry duty on the edge of a wood, and I was feeling rather lonely and frightened as the enemy were known to be not far off. About midnight, I grew very weary and miserable and homesick; and to keep up my courage, I began to sing that hymn. When I came to the verse—

All my trust on Thee is stayed;
All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of Thy wing—
a strange peace seemed to descend on me, and I was no more afraid.”

Then the first man told his story. “I also,” he said, “fought in the Civil War, but I was on the Union side. On that night I was out with a party of scouts in the place of which you spoke. We saw you standing on the edge of the wood and my men had their rifles pointed at you and were ready for the word to fire.

But just then you began to sing, and when you came to the words—

Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of Thy wing—
I said, ‘ Boys, lower your rifles; we will go home.’”
God shields us in many, many ways of which we know not.

2. And then I think the psalmist asked to be kept as the apple of the eye, because our eyesight is very precious to us. Of all the five senses, sight is the most valuable. We could get along better without any one of the others than without it. Just think, for instance, how helpless a blind man is compared with a deaf one. And think what care you take of your eyes. If danger is near you put up your hand at once to defend them.

Well, God takes just as much care of you. Once a little boy was standing with his father on the top of the Cheviot Hills. The father pointed northward over Scotland, southward over England, eastward over the North Sea, and westward over hill and dale, and then he said, “Johnny, my boy, God’s love is as big as all that.” “Why, father,” said Johnny, “then we must be in the very middle of it.”

Yes, we are right in the middle of God’s love, and that is the safest place we can be in. Nothing can ever really hurt or harm us there—not sin, nor sorrow, nor even death at last. That God gave so much—His only Son to redeem us—shows how precious we are; and He keeps us safe because we are precious.

3. Again I think the psalmist asks to be kept as the apple of the eye because the eye is so sensitive. It feels pain if the tiniest insect or the smallest bit of grit enters it.

In the Book of Zechariah there is a verse very similar to this one. God is speaking of His chosen people and He says that he that toucheth them “toucheth the apple of His eye.” That just means that he who hurts them hurts God. And I think those words are meant for all God’s children in all ages— he who hurts them hurts God.

When Lord Kitchener was Governor, or Sirdar, as he was called, of the Soudan, he was very strict about guarding the rights of the natives. If a soldier injured a native in any way, even one of the poorest and meanest, the matter was inquired into, and the soldier, if guilty, was severely punished. Kitchener was so careful about this and so jealous of the rights of the natives, that it came to be a sort of proverb in the army, “If you strike a native you strike the Sirdar.”

So the smallest trouble or pain you experience hurts God. Did you ever think of it in that way? God feels all your little sorrows and troubles just as though they had happened to Him, and He feels them far more than you do.

The Hebrews called the pupil of the eye the “little son” or sometimes “the daughter of the eye” because when you look into the eye of another you see reflected there a little picture of yourself.
God always carries about a picture of you in His eye. He is always thinking about you, and caring for you, and loving you, and He longs for your love too. He has such a great big heart that He can take us all in, and there will always be an empty corner in it till you nestle there.

- James Hastings, Children's Great Texts Of The Bible