My son, keep my words, And treasure my commands within you. Keep my commands and live, And my law as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; Write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 17v1-3
Back in February I researched the meaning of the phrase ‘apple of the eye used here.’ In Psalm 17 it was used to describe how God sees us. Here in Proverbs it describes how we are to see the word of God. I am just going to copy and paste what I had there and then apply it.
Though we all understand what the ‘apple of the eye’ means and it is a beautiful phrase, the origin of this old English word misses the point of what the psalmist was saying. The phrase seems to have come from the shape of what we now call the pupil of our eye and it was used by King Alfred in its modern figurative sense as far back as the 10th century. Apparently the Anglo-Saxons coined the word because the literal pupil of the eye was spherical, like an apple. Since the eye is so well protected in the head and so carefully guarded the phrase developed to mean anything that was precious and protected, something that was very dear.
A little look at the phrase will help us understand more of why it means what it does to us. It pictured someone who is precious and dear. Hebrew literature used ‘daughter of the eye’ and Arabic used the phrase ‘the little man of the eye.’ This is the literal sense of the Hebrew used here. The use of the word comes from the fact that the image of one being looked at supposedly can be seen is a mirror image on the eye of the beholder.
Believe or not the modern word ‘pupil’ actually captures the idea better even though we don’t normally connect it. It comes from a Latin word which means the ‘little boy’ or ‘little girl’ of the eye. We can now see the connection when we think of pupils in a classroom.
I think it is interesting that in one case the term refers to how God sees us, and in this case it refers how we are to see His word. God’s word should be the one thing that we hold as dear and precious. It needs to be the one thing that holds our attention to the point that it is the reflection in our eye.
I like particularly this part of the definition – ‘This use of the word comes from the fact that the image of one being looked at supposedly can be seen is a mirror image on the eye of the beholder.’
When people look into our eyes what do they see reflected there? Do they see the word of God reflected in our eyes? Is God’s word so precious that people see it in us?
Is God’s word as precious to us as we are to Him?