The apple of his eye

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Deuteronomy 32:1-44

It’s a saying that trip off the tongue.  It’s whispered by a doting father to his son; a protective husband to his wife; perhaps even a musician to their favourite instrument: “You’re the apple of my eye.”  We know that it means “my beloved”.  But for most of us, we’re not really sure why it means that.  What exactly is the “apple” of the eye anyway!

The phrase occurs a number of times in the King James Bible and was used in English translations prior to 1611.

It translates a Hebrew idiom that would mean, more literally, “little man of the eye.”  You could possibly also translate it “dark spot of the eye”.  And there you understand that it refers to the pupil.

In Old English, the pupil was called the apple of the eye as far back as the 9th century.  So between this Old English image and the Old Testament phrase we get “apple of the eye.”

The apple of your eye is incredibly vulnerable. It’s an area you are hugely protective of.  Our own eye sockets, eye lids and eyebrows surround this sensitive spot.  To lose an eye is not only incredibly disabling, but horribly shaming also (e.g. Judges 16:212 Kings 25:7).  Therefore protect our eyes at all costs.

So what does God treat as the apple of His eye?

For the LORD’S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.  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.  As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:  So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.  He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock.   (Deuteronomy 32:9-13)

[O LORD] Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings. (Psalm 17:8)

He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye.  (Zechariah 2:8)

God’s people are the apple of His eye.  They are jealously loved, protected and honoured.

If you trust Jesus, you are the Lord’s Bride, Christ’s Body, the Vine’s Branches, the Father’s Children, the Spirit’s Anointed.  In short, you are the apple of His eye!

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