Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings — Psalm 17:8
So much of human unhappiness is unnecessary. So much of what causes people to be dejected and discouraged comes from the incorrect perception that we are alone: How will I get by on my own? How can I do it alone? Who will take care of me? Who will comfort me? All these questions are unnecessary when we recognize the truth as David stated it in Psalm 23:4, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
In Psalm 17, David prayed: “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” According to Jewish tradition, this psalm was written after David had sinned with Bathsheba. Even then, David knew that God would not desert him. David turned to God with an honest heart, regretful of his mistakes, and devoted to being the best he could be. Even in his imperfection, David understood that God would be with him, care about him, and protect him with love.
This kind of relationship with God is available to us all. To see how that is possible, let’s understand a bit more deeply exactly what David was praying for.
First, David asked God to keep him as the apple of His eye. In the original Hebrew, the word used for apple is ishon, which stems from the word ish, meaning “man.” This is because when you look into the pupil of someone’s eye, you will see the reflection of a small human being inside it — you! When David prayed to be the “apple of your eye,” he wanted to be that little person reflected in God’s eyes. In other words, he wanted God to watch over him — not from a distance, but up close and personal.
Next, David prayed to be in the shadow of God’s wings. Here, the Hebrew word used is tzel, which literally means “shade.” David wanted to be protected in the shade of God’s wings. He prayed that God would protect him just as a mother bird protects her babies.
David’s prayer shows us that there are two ways God is constantly by our side. The first way is by always watching over us. God sees our pain and suffering. He knows our struggles and our fears. He looks at how we are doing because He wants to know and He cares. Secondly, God’s love surrounds us. Not only does He see and foresee our troubles, but He protects us from them, whether we know it or not. As it says in Psalm 34:19, “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.”
Next time you are feeling alone, remember that you are the apple of God’s eye, covered and protected in the shadow of His wings.