I call on you, my God, for you will answer me.
Turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Keep me as the apple of your eye, hide me in the shadow of your wings; from the wicked who are out to destroy me, from my mortal enemies who surround me. (Psalm 17:6-9)
The Apple of God’s Eye
Last week, my wife Heidi and I celebrated “ThanksChristmas” with our whole family—15 of us in all. That included our seven precious grandchildren, all under the age of 8. Grandkids are great! They are busy little creatures who are always full of energy, always full of questions, and always needy. They’re constantly asking for something, and they are never shy about telling you what they want! As grandparents, we are usually inclined to give in. That’s partly because they’ve gotten pretty good at asking—looking into our eyes with an almost irresistible childlike innocence, trust, and hope that tugs at our hearts and causes us to melt—but it’s mostly because we love them more than they could ever know. When they call, we answer!
I think that’s the way it is with our prayers to God.
The inscription above Psalm 17 identifies it as “A prayer of David,” making it one of only five psalms that are identified as prayers. Even though many other psalms have a prayerful tone and contain prayer-like sections, Psalm 17 is truly a prayer from beginning to end. Specifically, it is a prayer of lament. “Hear me, Lord…listen to my cry…vindicate me…”
David cries out to God about the injustice of things—he has tried to live a blameless life to honor his God, but in spite of this, the “wicked” around him are trying to dissuade, distract and destroy him. And so, David pleads for God to “confront them,” and to “bring them down.”
All that stuff gives us some insight into what David is going through, what bothers him, what he’s hoping for. But it’s the middle part, verses 6 to 9, that reveal something deeper about David’s prayer. They show us what it looks like and feels like to be in a real relationship with Almighty God.
David calls on God, knowing God will answer him; not because David prays so well, but because God loves him so well. David implores God to “show me the wonders of your great love.” He asks God to “keep me as the apple of your eye,” and “hide me in the shadow of your wings.”
Of course, God is a spiritual being without a physical form or body. God isn’t contained in a single place and he’s not confined or limited by a physical form. God doesn’t need ears to hear, eyes to see, hands to save and wings to protect. But the way David sees God—the way he prays to God—is as his loving Father. David is confident God will act because he knows God’s limitless love for him. He is the “apple of God’s eye.”
In his amazing Sermon on the Mount, Jesus invites his disciples to pray: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). He explains to tell them that if they know how to give good gifts to their children (or grandchildren), imagine how much more our Father in heaven will give good gifts to His kids!
Some of us struggle with how to pray, when to pray, or even whether our prayers really make a difference. If you’re having trouble praying today, I challenge you to change the picture of God in your mind. He is your wonderful, smiling, heavenly Father; a Daddy who loves you more than you can ever know. You are the apple of His eye, and he wants to answer you. Get close to Him, and He will be close to you. He is the source of life, the Living Water, stay thirsty for Him!
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