Psalm Seventeen: I Do Not Think That Means What You Think It Means

Posted: October 2, 2012 in Interlude (Psalms)

In a beautiful bit of poetry, David cries out to God to “Keep me as the apple of your eye.” I find it fascinating how my understanding of this phrase has matured over the years. Growing up it was always used as a defense of David. I mean, he wasn’t that bad a guy- he was the apple of God’s eye! I grew up with the understanding that it simply meant that God eyeballed ‘ole David in the same way we go apple-picking and can’t stop staring at the best apple that we found. I don’t recall if I was specifically taught that or not, but it was my understanding.

Getting a little older I learned that David was referring to a pupil. If you slice an apple down the middle you’ll see an expanse of whiteness with seeds in the center. Therefore, my understanding shifted to something like this: David was telling God to keep His eyes on David, to stay with him, watch over him.

Not quite.

It’s amazing what a little digging in some commentaries will reveal. I was on the right track about the pupil thing, but I had failed to understand that David was saying “Keep me, guard me, protect me as you would your pupils.” I love how Spurgeon elaborates- I’ll end with his summation:

Keep me as the apple of the eye. No part of the body more precious, more tender, and more carefully guarded than the eye; and of the eye, no portion more peculiarly to be protected than the central apple, the pupil, or as the Hebrew calls it, “the daughter of the eye.” The all wise Creator has placed the eye in a well protected position; it stands surrounded by projecting bones like Jerusalem encircled by mountains. Moreover, its great Author has surrounded it with many tunics of inward covering, besides the hedge of the eyebrows, the curtain of the eyelids, and the fence of the eyelashes; and, in addition to this, he has given to every man so high a value for his eyes, and so quick an apprehension of danger, that no member of the body is more faithfully cared for than the organ of sight. Thus, Lord, keep thou me, for I trust I am one with Jesus, and so a member of his mystical body.

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