“Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
Hide me under the shadow of Your wings.” Psalms 17:8
Many of us are familiar with the great hymn, “In the Hollow of His Hand.” The first stanza and chorus are as follows:
“With my Saviour ever near
To guide me,
I am safe, whatever may betide me;
From the storms and tempest
He will hide me
In the hollow of His hand!
In the hollow of His hand!
In the hollow of His hand!
I am safe, whatever may betide me,
In the hollow of His hand!”
The writer of this hymn must have been inspired by Deuteronomy 33:27: “The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you…” (NLT). If there was ever a time when Believers need assurance of their safety ‘in the hollow of His hand,’ it would be now. The world is fighting what one leader has described as an “invisible enemy.” Over half of the people in the world are presently on lockdown because of this invisible enemy called COVID-19!
Maybe, it was in a time of great danger like this that David prayed, “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings.” (Psalms 17:8). David lived in constant danger. Both Saul and the Philistines were after him. He faced rebellion, insurrection, sabotage, and betrayal. He realised that his safety depended on God. That was why he constantly sought God’s protection.
The ‘apple of the eye’ is a metaphor for the pupil of the eye. We know that the pupil is one of the most delicate and protected part of the body. That is why it is naturally guarded with eyelids; that is why we instinctively blink at the slightest movement towards the eyes. To ‘keep’ is to preserve, to protect. The basic idea is “to exercise great care over.” To keep as the apple of the eye implies that the object is valuable and precious and, therefore, needs loving care and protection. David was saying to God, “protect me as you would protect your own eyes.”
David also prayed, “hide me under the shadow of your wings.” Ordinarily, a shadow cannot protect anyone, except if it is the shadow of God! “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalms 91:1). God’s ‘shadow’ is safer than any protective bunker that man can build! “Shadow of your wings” is a figure of speech that can mean one of two things. It could mean the wings of a bird that cover their young to save them from birds of prey. I once watched a hen moving around with her nine chicks. Suddenly there was a kite circling overhead. The hen made a unique sound (as if to alert the chicks about the lurking danger) and they immediately took cover under her wings. David wanted to find shelter under the wings of God’s protection.
David could also have had in view the innermost part of the Tabernacle where the wings of the Cherubim overshadowed the Mercy Seat (Hebrews 9:5). That was where God said He would meet with His servant (Exodus 25:20-22); that was where God’s presence could be encountered. So, David was asking God to hide him in His presence. David knew that God’s presence is the safest place, especially in a time of crisis.
HOW GOD KEPT ISRAEL
God kept the children of Israel in their journey through the wilderness. “He found him in a desert land and in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. 11 As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings.” (Deuteronomy 32:10-11). Moses described what the wilderness was like: “who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock.” (Deuteronomy 8:15). God kept them safe from external attacks and from the hazards of the environment. The pillar of cloud by day and fire by night protected them from sunstroke during the day and frost at night. They had no mobile clinics nor hospitals, yet Moses testified that “For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell.” (Deuteronomy 8:4 NLT).
God answered David’s prayer and kept him safe. Saul could not find him to destroy him. “And David stayed in strongholds in the wilderness and remained in the mountains in the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand.” (1 Samuel 23:14). At one point, Saul was almost closing in on David “But a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come, for the Philistines have invaded the land!” 28 Therefore Saul returned from pursuing David, and went against the Philistines; so they called that place the Rock of Escape.” (1 Samuel 23:27-28). God did not deliver David to his enemy.
JESUS PRAYED FOR US
Jesus prayed to the Father concerning the Church: “Now I am coming to you. I will not stay in the world, but these followers of mine are still in the world. Holy Father, keep them safe by the power of your name—the name you gave me. Then they will be one, just as you and I are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them safe by the power of your name—the name you gave me. I protected them. And only one of them was lost—the one who was sure to be lost. This was to show the truth of what the Scriptures said would happen.” (John 17:11-12. ERV). This prayer is still being answered today. No wonder Peter said that we “… are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). Peter experienced it firsthand.
From First Peter 1:5 we see that there are two sides to the preservation of the Christians – God’s power and our individual faith. There is no limit to the power of God available for the protection of His children but we must connect to that power by faith. That is why “The just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; Hebrews 10:38); that is why we walk (live) by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
In the midst of the present global pandemic, we can pray like David, Lord, “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings.” We can rest secure on His promise: “Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. 8 The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.” (Psalms 121:4-8). Amen!