Many of us have noticed that theme for our Covenant Celebration this year is centered around the apple; as in “You’re comparing apples to oranges,” and “You’re the apple of my eye,” and “The apple never falls far from the tree,” or “As American as an apple pie,” and “How about them apples?” and “She’s one smart apple,” and “You’ve really upset the apple cart now”.
The apple is rooted (no pun intended) in our language and humor. "Dad!" the little boy puffed, "is it true that an apple a day keeps the doctor away?" "That's what they say," said his Dad. "Well, give me an apple quick? I've just broken the doctor's window next door!"
Or in the school lunch room, the rambunctious schoolboy asks indignantly: "What kind of pie do you call this?" "What's it taste like?" asked the cook. "Glue!" replies the boy "Then it's apple pie, the plum pie tastes like soap."
It’s important to note that one of the principal reasons the apple is so deeply rooted in our culture is biblical. The oldest English translations of the bible have deeply left their mark on our literary heritage and the scriptures that use apple as a focal point have been faithfully translated.
The phrase “apple of my eye” first appeared in Old English in work attributed to King Aelfred (the Great) of Wessex, AD 885, called Gregory's Pastoral Care.
In 1307, William Tell, a Swiss folk hero, visited Altdorf with his young son and passed by the hat of the nobleman by the name of Gessler who had been placed in charge of the village. Publicly refusing to bow to the hat, Gessler had Tell arrested. Gessler—intrigued by Tell's famed marksmanship but resentful of his defiance—devised a cruel punishment. Tell and his son were to be executed. However, he could redeem his life by shooting an apple off the head of his son Robert in a single attempt. Tell split the apple with a bolt from his crossbow.
Shakespeare also used it in the 1590s when he wrote A Midsummer Night's Dream: "Flower of this purple dye, / Hit with Cupid's archery, / Sink in apple of his eye".
The eyeball, or globe of the eye, with pupil in center, called "apple" from its round shape. Its great value and careful protection by the eyelids automatically closing when there is the least possibility of danger made it the emblem of that which was most precious and jealously protected. The Hebrew terms for it were, 'ishon, diminutive of 'ish, "man," little man or mannikin, referring perhaps specially to the pupil, probably from "the little image one sees of himself when looking into another's pupil". How beautiful the thought of seeing ones-self in the reflection of God’s eye?
The earliest recorded use in Modern English is in Sir Walter Scott's Old Mortality, 1816: "Poor Richard was to me as an eldest son, the apple of my eye."
The English Standard, and New International Versions, have let it stand.
The phrase is first found in the Pentateuch (Deuteronomy 32:10); In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye,”
It was God who seeks first, rescues.
It’s next found in the wisdom books.
Psalms 17:8 where Deut 32:10 and 11 are essentially repeated. “Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.” Where David is beseeching God to Preserve him; guard him; defend him, as one defends that which is to him most precious and valuable.
Not only does God seek first and rescues but He preserves and guards what He has found. He defends us because we are, to Him, most precious and valuable.
He encourages us to treat Him and His word just as He treats us:
Keep my commandments and live, And my teaching as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and to insight, “You are my relative.”
Make them intimate – part of who you are, part of you core, let them define who you are and who you are to be.
Apples are mentioned no less than 4 times in Song on Songs by Solomon in intimate love language.
And it is found in the prophetic books in Lamentation, Joel, Zechariah.
In Lamentation 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. Destruction of the temple, fall of Jerusalem, - the misery that has befallen the people is so fearful, that sorrow over it wears out one's life. The apple of God’s eye is consumed in fear.
The vine dries up and the fig tree fails; The pomegranate, the palm also, and the apple tree, All the trees of the field dry up Indeed, rejoicing dries up from the sons of men.
Zech 2:8 (12) as he points to a messianic future for Israel as he describes in a vision the New Jerusalem.
For thus says the LORD of hosts, "After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.
The two scriptures on our bulletin board tell us that we are loved, guarded, and cherished by God. We need to hold his word to us close, to be intimate with his word in scripture and intimate with His Word made flesh. We need to see ourselves in Him as a reflection. And when other see us, they need to see their own reflection the same way – an image of love. We really need to see ourselves, treat ourselves, and to see and treat one another as God treats us.
This is central to all else that we do. This is at the core.