David was an expert on fear. That’s not a badge I ever want to wear, but we can learn a lot from a man who has earned his. His psalms reflect a life plagued with pursuit and hiding, but also protection and provision. While hiding in the crags of rocks and crying out to God to end his enemy’s pursuit, he shares with us a beautiful picture of his trust in the LORD. When faced with calamity, fear is our body’s default emotion. We’ve all heard of the body’s “fight or flight” response, but when an extreme immediate response is not required, our body’s reaction to calamity is oftentimes what we could call the antiheroic “worry and doubt” response. Fear comes naturally, but doesn’t have to overcome us.
The wise Proverb 3:5 instructs us to trust in the LORD with all of our heart and not to lean on our own understanding. But how do we apply this to fear? Our own human understanding of a situation would tell us to fear, yet if we are trusting God with our whole heart, there is no more room for fear to reside. So then, fear must leave and be replaced by God’s assurance and peace. The rest of the proverb tells us to acknowledge God in all our ways and he will make our path straight. Sure, we may feel fearful as our body receives information and sorts it into good and bad, but as believers, we have the privilege of being lifted out of the chains that fear locks around our body, mind, and heart. There is peace and assurance in a path that is straight and well marked. Even when we can’t see all the steps to the path, we can follow our God who knows the path. David knew this and trusted God because he understood God’s love for him. In psalm 17:6 David says with assurance, “I call on you my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.” He proclaimed in psalm 17 verse 7 that God saves those who take refuge in God, and in verse 8 David gave us a beautiful picture of God’s love and protection. “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings” (psalm 17:8).
Do you think of yourself as the apple of God’s eye? David was and so are you and I. What a sweet picture of God’s love, but also one of God’s fierce protection of his people. We use the familiar idiom in today’s language often to describe a favorite, but the idiom is also used in the Hebrew language and holds further rich description.
The Hebrew idiom translates literally as “the little man of the eye,” and points anatomically to the of the pupil of the eye. If you were to look into the pupil someone’s eye, you would see the shape of yourself, a “little man” in the dark pupil. Look into your own eye with a mirror in good lighting and you will see your image staring back at yourself. More importantly, the pupil is responsible for vision and has to be carefully protected. God tells of his people in Zechariah 2:8, “…whoever touches you, touches the apple of my eye.” Moses proclaimed of God’s chosen people in Deuteronomy 32:10, “He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye.”
David called on God for mercy and refuge. He trusted in God even when his situation didn’t change. As believers, we can feel empowered over fear. We can face some really uncertain, painful, and grueling seasons of life, but we don’t have to wear the heavy chains of fear. Fear has no power over us. We are are more than just special to God; He loves us with a fiercely protective love. We are important to him like the pupil is important to the eye. Penned throughout God’s Word, we are the apple of his eye. We can cry out as David did in Psalm 57:1-2 “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” The fear that once pursued him, is halted under God’s protective wings. It is from that vantage of safety that David awaits disaster to pass.
How about you? When disaster arrives, how do you wait for it to pass? Are you tangled in the heavy, burdensome chains of fear that clank with worry and anxiety? Or are you nestled safely in the arms of God, prayerfully trusting that he will make your paths straight, and keeping watch from the protective vantage point under his wings? As the apple of God’s eye, believers have a battle plan for fear. We can feel safe in the Lord; we can trust him with our whole heart, not just the space left over that’s not taken over with worry. We can lean on God and not our own assessment and understanding of our circumstances. God shows us the next step to take, as we seek him in all our ways. One prayerful footstep at a time, the path becomes more clear and insulated with peace and assurance. We find our feet taking confident steps; our ankles no longer teeter as we grasp for balance upon the unfamiliar path. We realize at that point that God has made our path straight, and the illuminated path has led us straight to Him. And why wouldn’t it? We are, after all, the apple of his eye.