Psalm 17:8

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 8. 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.

Hide me under the shadow of thy wings. Even as the parent bird completely shields her brood from evil, and meanwhile cherishes them with the warmth of her own heart, by covering them with her wings, so do thou with me, most condescending God, for I am thine offspring, and thou hast a parent's love in perfection. This last clause is in the Hebrew in the future tense, as if to show that what the writer had asked for but a moment before he was now sure would be granted to him. Confident expectations should keep pace with earnest supplication.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 8. Keep me as the apple of the eye. He prays for deliverance ( Psalms 17:7 ), "Show thy marvellous lovingkindness" to me; Lord, my straits they are marvellous, I know not what to do, whither to turn me, but my eyes are toward thee; as straits are marvellous, so let the lovingkindness of God be marvellous towards me, and "Keep me as the apple of thy eye." O Lord, unto them I am but a dog, a vile creature in the eyes of Saul and those about him; but blessed be thy name, I can look up to thee, and know that I am dear unto thee as the apple of thy eye. All the saints of God are dear to God at all times, but the persecuted saints, they are the apple of God's eye; if at any time they are dear to God, then especially when they are most persecuted; now they are the apple of his eye, and the apple of an eye is weak, and little able to resist any hurt, but so much the more is the man tender of the apple of his eye. The saints are weak and shiftless for themselves, but the Lord is so much the more tender over them. Jeremiah Burroughs.

Verse 8. Does it not appear to thee to be a work of providence, that considering the weakness of the eye, he has protected it with eyelids, as with doors, which whenever there is occasion to use it are opened, and are again closed in sleep? And that it may not receive injury from the winds, he has planted on it eyelashes like a strainer; and over the eyes has disposed the eyebrows like a penthouse, so that the sweat from the head may do no mischief. Socrates, in Xenophon.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 8. Two most suggestive emblems of tenderness and care. Involving in the one case living unity, as the eye with the body, and in the other, loving relationship, as the bird and its young.