“Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye…. I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment. He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house at twilight as the day was fading as the dark of night set in.”
Proverbs 7:2, 7-9
Have you ever been told to do something so many times that you just didn’t value the command anymore, or maybe you never understood its importance, and you decided to go your own way?
It seems in every stage of life, we find someone telling us what we should or should not do, whether it’s counsel from a friend or a family member, a plea from an advertisement, or teaching from a pastor or expert in a given field. In Proverbs 7, and throughout the entire book of Proverbs, Solomon urges his son – and us – to follow the way of wisdom found in God’s commands. And more than simply following God’s word, Solomon exhorts us to “guard [his] teaching as the apple of [our] eye.”
To call something the apple of your eye means that it is precious. The apple of the eye is the pupil which has the important role of letting the right amount of light into the eye to help the retina carry the images we see to our brain. If we are to guard God’s commands as if we were protecting such an important part of our eye, then we should not only keep those commands but cherish them as well. We are protecting them as a most prized treasure.
After urging his son to follow the ways of wisdom, Solomon gives an example of what happens when we do not cherish and keep God’s commands: the example of adultery. If we analyze the path the man takes in this example, we see:
- A man walking down a street near the adulteress’ house.
- He is walking toward her house.
- He is walking as the light is fading and night is setting in.
The progression toward adultery in this example includes three simple steps: walking in the vicinity of the adulteress, walking in her direction, and walking under the cover of night, possibly in isolation. If we place ourselves in temptation’s way, sooner or later we will fall. The only way to avoid temptation such as this is to heed God’s commands, which means we must know and do those commands.
Psalm 1:1-2 also illustrates the progression toward sin, by explaining that a person first walks toward a situation, then stands in it, and eventually sits in it. The righteous person, on the other hand, avoids temptation by delighting in and meditating on God’s law.
Avoiding temptation by relying on our own judgment isn’t always wise, which is exactly why Solomon instructs us to cherish God’s commands so that we will keep them. Even if you’ve heard God’s commands so many times that you know them by heart, do you cherish them enough to obey them?
Are you walking near an area of temptation in your life thinking that you can manage it in your own wisdom and strength? Remember the “simple youth” of Proverbs 7. He walked near temptation and fell completely into it. Learn from his example and begin cherishing God’s commands. Walk in the light, not in the dark, as you guard God’s words of wisdom as the apple of your eye. Delight in the light!