“..Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings, from the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass me about..” Psalm 17 KJV
I used to think that the saying, ‘apple of my eye’, was a metaphor for a real apple that one looked at and desired and liked very much. It was not until years later in reading it again in the Bible, that it occurred to me that maybe it meant something else. After learning this deeper meaning, I had deeper appreciation for the phrase.
We say a lot of things in our language that we really don’t know what it means. Often we may understand its meaning by the way it is used. But when we dig deeper into the etymology of a word or phrase, we can gain a lot more information and appreciation for the true gist of the word or phrase.
The ‘apple’ of ones eye is the Old English word for ‘pupil’. So when you cherish someone, or something, you aren’t comparing them to a shiny red apple on the kitchen cabinet. You are talking about something closer and very dear to yourself–your own eyes.
Think about how you cherish your eyesight. Those who have lost their eyesight grieve its loss. We are very careful to protect our eyes. We wear sunglasses to protect from the sun’s damaging rays. Go to the grocery store and you will find rows of eye care products on the shelves. We have special doctors for our eyes. We have special fringed lids to protect them and when that isn’t enough we wear (or should wear) protective goggles to keep from damaging our precious eyes. A tiny speck of anything in your eye causes great discomfort. There are many reasons to protect our eyes. And we are very careful when it comes to our eyes.
‘The eyes are the window to your soul’ I have heard. It is an apt saying. Have you ever met someone and felt a connection to their soul right from the start? The eye is an amazing body part. Do an internet search or read a book on how the eye works and you will be amazed! The physical aspect is remarkable, but to feel this connection looking into the eyes of another human (or animal) is very special and beyond explanation. Only God could have designed something so wonderful.
For a few years I had wished for a family milk cow. I even prayed for just the right one. Usually when I would find one in our budget, she would be sold before I found the ad. Finally, the day came that I found a young Jersey heifer, within driving range and our budget. I was so excited. When we drove up and parked by the pasture, we saw her tied to the gate. When I got out of the truck, she looked me in the eyes with those huge brown Jersey calf eyes. I knew right then she was coming home with me! Maisy joined our home. She had been raised with no other animals and was spoiled. She thought she was a dog or human. She went on walks with my dogs and me. After she grew up, she became a very good milk cow and nurse cow and continues to raise calves though I no longer milk her. She is the apple of my eye. I love her. I cherish her.
When I needed money for a medical procedure, I had to sell her to pay for it. I was deeply saddened and worried about her. It never felt right that I had sold her. I felt like I had sold a family member. I was able to sell her to a friend so I could at least keep up with her and that helped. A year or so later, my friend needed to sell her. I worried where she would end up. I was starting cancer treatment and was in no position to buy back a cow and her calf.
But then, miraculously, I was blessed with a monetary gift from some people back where I grew up. I immediately used some of the money to buy her back. Some might think this a wrong use of the money, but I can tell you that getting that Jersey cow back home was the medicine I needed most at a very difficult time. In the next months of sickness, I could look out in the pasture and see her grazing. She was home. I would make it through this trial. She was a physical example of God’s provision. In His timing though, not mine.
So when I read in the Bible about God cherishing his people who are the ‘apple of his eye’, I get a much deeper meaning than in the past when I just thought it was referring to a piece of fruit. It is much more complex. The psalmist had the right idea to pray for that kind of careful protection. It is a good prayer for us as well. And a good way to treat those in our care, be it human or animal. Cherish them and love them as the apple of your eye.
One reason I appreciate the animals I share my home with are all the lessons I have learned from them. Read more Life Lessons: Animal Teachers.