What Is the Meaning of 'Apple of My Eye' in the Bible?

In Psalm 17, David asks God to "keep me as the apple of your eye" in a prayer to the Lord. Learn more about the meaning and significance of this phrase!

Christianity.com Editorial Staff
What Is the Meaning of 'Apple of My Eye' in the Bible?

Psalm 17 - A Prayer of David

Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit! From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right! You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night, you have tested me, and you will find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress. With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent. My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped. I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words. Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, From the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me. They close their hearts to pity; with their mouths they speak arrogantly. They have now surrounded our steps; they set their eyes to cast us to the ground. He is like a lion eager to tear, as a young lion lurking in ambush. Arise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, from men by your hand, O LORD, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants. As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

Apple of My Eye

"Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings." —Psalm 17:8

The phrase, which first was used in the Bible, comes from a Hebrew expression that literally means “little man of the eye,” and it refers to the tiny reflection of yourself that you can see in other people’s pupils. To be the apple of someone’s eye clearly means that you are being gazed upon and watched closely by that person. Your very image is dancing in the eyes of that person!

So when David asked God to “Keep me as the apple of your eye” in Psalm 17, he was asking God to keep an eye on him and not lose sight of him. David was asking that God would regard him as one would a cherished child, the object of great affection. And because he was the apple of God’s eye, David also asked for God’s protection: “hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Just as a mother bird protects her young by covering them with her wings, David was seeking shelter in God from those who were out to destroy him, from his mortal enemies who were surrounding him.

David knew, even as he was making these heartfelt requests, that God would answer his prayer (v. 6). He was confident that God would show him the “wonders of your great love” and that he would be vindicated before his enemies (v.15).

We can have that same confidence that David had. We, too, can be assured that God hears our prayers. We can know that He will answer them. And because we are the apple of His eye, we know that He will protect us. That doesn’t necessarily mean we will escape from every painful circumstance and difficulty that comes our way. But it does mean that as cherished ones in His sight, God will guide us through those circumstances and help us withstand them.

Excerpt from Holy Land Moments with The Fellowship

Apple of My Eye Meaning


In modern English, the phrase "apple of my eye" indicates something or someone that one values above all others. First, the phrase was an expression relating to the pupil of the eye.

"Apple of my eye" can be found in various books of the King James Bible translation from 1611, and some later translations:

  • Deuteronomy 32:10: "He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye".
  • Psalm 17:8: "Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings".
  • Proverbs 7:2: "Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye".
  • Lamentations 2:18: "Their heart cried unto the Lord, O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night: give thyself no rest; let not the apple of thine eye cease".
  • Zechariah 2:8: "For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye".


Apple of My Eye - Related Bible Verses

Scripture quotes about God's love and grace.

John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 5:8 - But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Zephaniah 3:17 - The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

1 John 4:16 - So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1 John 3:1 - See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Romans 8:37-39 - No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Galatians 2:20 - I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

1 John 4:19 - We love because he first loved us.

1 John 4:8 - Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.


Originally published December 30, 2019.