Does God Call Everyone “the Apple of My Eye”?
Does God call everyone “the apple of my eye?” In a world of comparison and cries for tolerance, most people would guess that he does. But before we agree with what the world—and maybe our hearts want to hear, we need to do a little investigating to answer this question. You see, there’s more to the phrase than meets the eye. (Pun intended.)
“Apple of My Eye” According to Shakespeare
Scientifically, the “apple” of my eye is a smack dab in the eyeball’s center. We call it the pupil. But science didn’t always have a name for this dot inside the eye. They called it what it looked like, an apple. Shakespeare used this phrase in A Midsummer Night’s Dream when the fairy king, Oberon, instructed his servant, Puck, to drop a love potion in Demetrius’ eye:
‘Flower of this purple dye,
Hit with Cupid’s archery,
Sink in apple of his eye.’
“Apple of his eye” held a more poetic ring than “the dot in the middle of his eyeball.” But before Shakespeare used this phrase to describe romantic love, the ancient scribes of the Bible penned it first to describe another kind of love, the love of God.
Where Does the Bible Say “Apple of My Eye”?
Moses, David, Solomon, Jeremiah, and Zechariah inked “the apple of my eye” on their scrolls. These Scriptures grace our Bibles today, holding promise and instruction. The following are from the King James translation. According to Christianity.com, “‘Apple of my eye’ can be found in various books of the King James Bible translation from 1611 and some later translations.” All of these are King James:
- Deuteronomy 32:10: “He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.”
- Psalm 17:8: “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.”
- Proverbs 7:2: “Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.”
- Lamentations 2:18: “Their heart cried unto the Lord, O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night: give thyself no rest; let not the apple of thine eye cease.”
- Zechariah 2:8: “For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.”
Translations That Replace “Apple of My Eye”
Noticing translations is important because some translations take a more literal approach. Rather than employing “apple of my eye,” other translators have used “pupil” or replaced “apple of my eye” with their understanding of its meaning. Here’s what other translations say for Psalm 17:8:
CSB - Protect me as the pupil of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.
MSG - Keep your eye on me; hide me under your cool wing feathers
NLT - Guard me as you would guard your own eyes. Hide me in the shadow of your wings.
TPT - Protect me from harm; keep an eye on me like you would a child reflected in the twinkling of your eye. Yes, hide me within the shelter of your embrace, under your outstretched wings.
I’m excited about these translations because they help explain the “apple of my eye” phrase. The pupil of the eye is highly protected. According to the Treasury of David commentary, “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.”
This commentary continues to describe the great lengths the Creator went to protect this important part of the eye with the bones in our faces, eyebrows, eyelids, and eyelashes. To be sure, the pupil is an important part of the body.
What Pupil Means in Hebrew
In Hebrew, pupil means “little man;” it refers to the image seen in the eye of one watching another. One of my favorite photographs is a picture of my son when he was three. His chubby cheeks beckon a momma’s touch, and his awkward smile echos the sound of “cheeeezzzz . . .” But the best part about the photo is the image of the photographer captured in his eyes—the apple of his eyes. There she is, bent down, camera in hand, snapping the moment. Her reflection shone, right smack in the middle of my son’s brown eyes. That photo helps me visualize what it means to be the apple of God’s eye. The object of his vision.
What Does “Apple of My Eye” Really Mean?
We can interpret “the apple of my eye” in different ways. It is a place of safety and protection, and an image of God lovingly watching His kids. When translating Scripture, you can take the literal, word-for-word approach studying the Hebraic meaning of the word. Still, sometimes we miss the heart meaning behind the phrase because it is a Hebrew idiom—a phrase that means more than a literal translation can explain.
Have you ever described a friend as “under the weather”? If you have, you’ve used an idiom, a phrase that means something else. You weren’t describing someone oppressed by low-hanging clouds. You were expressing how badly she physically felt.
“The apple of my eye” is a Hebrew idiom. I found this explanation both beautiful and powerful. “The apple of my eye has been translated from ba vat ey no’." It’s explained here by the Jerusalem Prayer Team:
“‘ba•vat ey•no,’ expresses the most precious and the dearest thing one has – the apple of his eye. When relating to another person or entity with this phrase, we leave no room for a doubt that there is nothing more precious to us. As a term of endearment we use it in first person and say: ‘ba•vat ey•ni,’ ‘the apple of my eye.’”
According to the commentary above, the “apple of my eye” is the most treasured and important thing one has. When we plug this meaning into the Scriptures above, they read like this:
- Deuteronomy 32:10: “He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the most important thing he has.”
- Psalm 17:8: “Keep me as the most important thing you have, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.”
- Proverbs 7:2: “Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the most important thing you have.”
- Lamentations 2:18: “Their heart cried unto the Lord, O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night: give thyself no rest; let not the most important thing you have cease.”
- Zechariah 2:8: “For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the most important thing I have.”
Does God Call Us “the Apple of My Eye?”
For many of us, it’s hard to believe that God would consider us “the apple of his eye” or the most important thing he has. The verses above refer to those who walked with him, even imperfectly—Jacob, David, and the Israelites. This same God made a way for all men to be “the apple of his eye.” Scripture tells us time and time again how much God loves us—how much he loves the world.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
God gave the life of his son—the most important thing he had—so that as we trust his love, we can become the most important thing he has. This brings us back to the question that started this article: “Is everyone the apple of God’s eye?”Without a doubt, God desires a relationship with his creation and made a way for this to be possible. He’s made it possible for all to be the apple of his eye.He’s given us a choice.
You are the Apple of His Eye
As people dearly cherished by the Father, we find ourselves “the apple of his eye,” the object of his vision and protection. How does he watch over us? Honestly, it’s incomprehensible to our finite brains, but if we could explain God, he wouldn’t be God.
All I know is that as a believer in this very good God and his son Jesus, I’ve never felt more secure and loved—even when bad things happen. I can’t explain it, but I know love changes things, and it’s changed my heart. I no longer doubt that I’m the apple of his eye, nor the possibility of the entire world experiencing such a privileged position in his heart. With God, all things are possible, even for everyone to be “the apple of his eye.”
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Andrii Bicher
Andy Lee is an event speaker, blogger, YouTuber, and award winning author of three books, A Mary Like Me; The Book of Ruth Key-Word Bible Study, and Radiant Influence: How an ordinary girl changed the world. She passionately teaches how to find life in God's Word in order to live abundantly. You can catch her life giving messages weekly on Instagram and YouTube. She also provides monthly Bible reading plans and articles on her website www.wordsbyandylee.