Our English phrase the apple of your eye is a helpful translation of the Hebrew, which is the little man of the eye. When you look into someone's eye, you can see yourself reflected in the pupil of their eyeball as a little person. Also, your eye is the most vulnerable part of your body. You protect it by blinking or turning your face turning away from a ball or a blow. When we think about this term we should think of presence and protection.
We read in Psalm 17 that David says he is the apple of God’s eye.
"Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings." (Psalm 17:8)
What does this mean? It means that God will keep an eye on him and protect him. Why? Because David is precious to him.
But how can David claim to be the apple of God's eye? Can he say this because it’s before his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah, her husband? Did he forfeit this claim after he committed such sins?
And, what about us? Surely we couldn't lay hold of this title. We know our sin. How can we be the apple of God’s eye?
It’s because we are united to the true apple of God's eye. At the baptism of Jesus, the voice of God the Father says, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" (Mt. 3:17). At Jesus's transfiguration, the voice of God the Father says, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him" (Mt. 17:5). Jesus is the very apple of God's eye.
However, there’s a twist. Instead of protecting him at all costs like we always do with our eyes, instead of flinching away, deflecting the coming suffering, it actually pleased him to crush his own son for us.
Like David before him, Jesus pleaded with God in as he beheld the cup appointed for him. He knew the terror and horror of that cup of divine wrath. But he received no answer. Jesus pleaded his case before the Father like David does in Psalm 17, but it wasn't “deliver me from my enemies because of your faithful covenant-keeping love, but deliver me over to my enemies and fulfill your covenant-keeping love.” The Son’s pleading to his Father was to, “fulfill your promise made before the foundation of the world that I would keep the law and satisfy the just requirements for their sin, usher in the New Creation, redeem them from bondage to sin, death, and Satan and wrap them into my family.”
Because of the true Son of David, we become the apple of God's eye. We are children of God adopted and cherished in Jesus Christ. He has his eye on you. He protects you. What great news! It humbles and strengthens us.
Editor's Note: This originally published at The Gospel Coalition.