Psalm 17:8
From the first to the fifth verse the prayer bases his confidence in God on four pleas.

1. He prays for the righteous cause.

2. In a righteous spirit.

3. On the ground of a righteous character.

4. On the ground of righteous conduct.

Now we come to other grounds upon which he urges God to save him.

I. THE COMPASSION OF GOD for THOSE WHO URGENTLY CRY TO HIM. (Vers. 6, 7.) He calls, because God answers him; and now he calls for a special exercise of mercy, because God saves those who find their refuge or safety in him. He was pleading according to the law of God's nature, and had, therefore, a Divine warrant for his prayer: "If we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us."

II. HIS IMMINENT DANGER. (Vers. 7, 9, 11, 12.) His enemies were the enemies of God (ver. 7). They would destroy him (ver. 9). They haunted his footsteps everywhere (ver. 11). He prays, therefore, to be protected as the pupil of the eye is protected, as if he could not be kept secure enough; and to be hidden under the shadow of the Divine wings, where no danger could reach him (Deuteronomy 32:10, 11).


1. Their want of sympathy and their hard pride. (Ver. 10.) "Enclosed in fat" is equivalent to "have become gross and unfeeling."

2. They were bent on the ruin of others as well as themselves. (Ver. 11.)

3. They were fierce and furious in their wicked efforts. (Ver. 12.) Like a greedy lion, like a young vigorous lion lurking in his lair.


1. They were satisfied with the treasures of this world. With children and worldly substance, and were not worthy, therefore, to triumph over the righteous cause and the righteous persons. Deliver me from such worldlings.

2. He was seeking after the highest good. (Ver. 15.) "In righteousness let me behold thy face; let me be satisfied, when I awake, with thine image." An echo of the eleventh verse of the previous psalm, which reveals his trust in a future life. "There is an allusion probably to such a manifestation of God as that made to Moses (Numbers 12:8), where God declares that with Moses he will speak "mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches, and the similitude [rather, 'form,' the same word as here] of Jehovah shall he behold." - S.

Keep me as the apple of the eye.
The world is no friend to righteousness; its spirit cannot endure the restraints that holiness imposes upon its workings. Hence the world's hostility to all those who live truly godly lives. To understand the full force of keeping one as the apple of the eye it is necessary to consider first, how the whole eye is protected, sheltered by bones and sinews, opening and closing doors, light-softening and dust-excluding curtains, and then, that the pupil of the eye, located farther in, is protected by guardians equally wonderful and peculiarly its own. There is no other part of the human body so wonderfully protected, and no other part that, when endangered, we so instinctively try to shelter from harm. And so God guards His people as tenderly as we guard the pupil of our eye; yea, as tenderly as He guards the pupil of His own eye.

(David Caldwell, A. M.)

The man knows something of himself who sincerely offers this plaintive petition, "Keep me. Is there not a sorrowful confession implied? But it implies knowledge of God too. What He is and will do. The keeping desired is that with which men guard the eye. It means, therefore —

I. KEEP ME WITH MANY GUARDS AND PROTECTIONS. The eye is kept by eye bones, eyelashes, eyelids, which serve as outworks, fences and barricades to protect the pupil of the eye, God has bestowed extraordinary pains upon all that concerns the eye. Sentries keep ward lest it should be imperilled. Whenever it is threatened, with agility so brisk that it seems almost involuntary, the arm is lifted up and the hand is raised to screen it. All the members of the body may be regarded as a patrol for the wardship of the eye. So should we pray to be kept with many protections — providence, grace ordinances, the Holy Spirit, the angels.

II. WITH CONSTANCY, UNINTERMITTING CONTINUANCE. The eye is always guarded. Without our thinking of it. If a grain of dust enter, forthwith a watery burnout is exuded to carry it away or to dissolve it. The pain is a mercy, for it makes you restless until you get relief. When you fall asleep the curtains fall, the blinds, as it were, drop down, and the windows are shut up securely with lash and lid. So, and in yet other ways, doth the parable of the eye suggest the prayer of the text. Evermore, O Lord, watch over me. Remark here, that at no season is a Christian more in danger than when he has just been in communion with God. The footpads in olden time did not meddle with the farmers as they went to market; it was when they were coming home, and bringing back their money bags full. Our ships of war attacked the Spanish galleons not on their way to but from America, when they knew them to be laden to the Water's edge with silver and gold. You need keeping, then, always.

III. FROM LITTLE EVILS, THE DUST AND GRIT OF THIS WORLD. Your eye needs not to be guarded so much from beams as motes. Be this your prayer, "Keep me from what the world calls little sins." To one, a Puritan, who was offered great preferment if he would but comply with the government demands, it was said, "Others have made long gashes in their consciences: could not you make a little nick in yours?" But those "little nicks" swiftly run to the rending of the conscience from top to bottom. There was an officer who kept in his house a tame leopard which had been born in the house. It had grown up as harmless as a domestic cat. But one day when its master was asleep it gently licked his hand. The creature's tongue passed over a slight but recent wound. A little blood oozed out. The taste roused the demon spirit of the beast at once, and had it not been promptly shot its master's life would have been its victim. When the thief cannot break in at the door himself he puts a boy through the window, and then the great door is speedily opened.

IV. SENSITIVE, TENDER IN HEART, AS THE APPLE OF THE EYE. God has made it thus sensitive for its own protection. The conscience should be a real indicator: if in good keeping it would be a wonderful tell-tale. It will startle you from your lethargy, it will arouse you as with an alarm.

V. AS THE EYE OUGHT TO BE KEPT. It should be "single," clear, far-seeing. As an ornament, for the beauty of the countenance is in the eye. So should we "adorn the doctrine" and the Church of God. Useful, a genuine Christian will pray to be useful, not like a glass eye, a mere counterfeit. And then, though the remark may seem strange and quaint, I would entreat the Lord to keep me in the head. Solomon has made the shrewd remark, "The wise man's eyes are in his head, but the fool walketh in darkness." I would give this a spiritual turn, and ask to be kept in Christ Jesus. Of what use were the eye of a man if not in the head? And what we, apart from Christ? There are some to whom this prayer is, nothing, for they are not Christ's. Let your prayer be, "Lord, save me, or I perish. Once saved, you may pray to be kept.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

God's Word and works, the two great sources of our knowledge of God. When we want to get clear and vivid conception of any truth we employ analogy and institute comparison, and say it is "as" or "like" some object in nature. Text an illustration of this. It means —

I. THAT THE ROYAL PSALMIST PRAYS TO BE DIVINELY PROTECTED. He did not possess all our modern knowledge of the anatomy of the eye, but he must have known much or he could not have penned this prayer. Of all the organs of the body the eye is the most delicate and precious, and is protected by the most wonderful and elaborate contrivances. The eyes are the sentinels of the body, and keep constant guard over it. They are the windows through which the soul looks out upon all things within its range. They are closely connected with the brain, and by a mysterious telegraphy of nerves convey to the brain knowledge of what is passing in the outer world. The eyes are like citizens within the entrenchments of a fortified town, surrounded by outworks, fences, and barricades. And the arms are like two warders to defend them. Note some of their protections. A protruding socket, like a wall around it: with overhanging brow to carry off drops of perspiration; with eyelashes to guard against dust and insects; with lids that automatically close at the approach of danger; with glands which secrete tears that clean and lubricate the ball of the eye; with beds, cushion like for their softness, upon which they repose and revolve with safety. All these and many more show how carefully God keeps the apple of the eye, and help us to see how David desired that God would keep him.

II. AND HE WOULD BE DIVINELY PRESERVED. "Hide me under the shadow of Thy wings." This emblem, like the former, is exceedingly suggestive. There may be reference to the wings of the cherubim which were the symbol of God's presence in the tabernacle of old. David had ardent love for the house of God, he even envied the sparrows that built their nests near God's altar. In the time of trouble he would be hidden in God's pavilion, in the secret place of the tabernacle; and there, hiding as under the wings of the cherubim, he would find a shelter and a home.

(F. W. Brown.)

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