The Steady Eye
Brian D. Dykstra
“Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee” (Prov. 4:25).
God warns us many times in Proverbs about disobedience. In this section of Proverbs, however, we are told how to obey Him, how to keep the heart for out of it are the issues of life. God just commanded us to put away a froward mouth. He now gives us direction regarding our eyes.
Our five senses connect us physically to creation. They are also inlets to our souls. How we observe and interact with the creation influences our spiritual life. This is especially true for our eyes. Christ warns us, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light” (Matt. 6:22). Jesus also warns us about the evil eye and the resulting spiritual darkness (v. 23).
Knowing that our eyes exert a powerful influence in our lives, Solomon instructs us how to use our eyes properly. We are to “look right on.” Satan knows how powerful temptations presented through our eyes can be. The things on which we fix our eyes will direct the soul. The inspired apostle Peter knew this as well. He wrote of those who departed from the truth, “Having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children” (II Pet. 2:14). This is clear to us in today’s entertainment. The music, dancing and various forms of video presentations display to our eyes a world full of adultery which cannot satisfy its depraved desire for sin. The world’s lack of moderation in its use of alcohol fuels the raging fire of hedonistic passion.
Eyes have often led people into sin. Lot’s wife did not keep her eyes straight ahead. She turned to see the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, evidently desiring the life she had enjoyed there, and was turned to a pillar of salt. During the destruction of Jericho, Achan saw among the spoils some treasures which he desired. He coveted, took the accursed thing and all Israel suffered the consequences in a humiliating defeat. Then there is David. Instead of keeping his eyes fixed on the enemy on the battlefield, he stayed in Jerusalem where his wandering eye saw Bathsheba. His life would never be the same.
There are examples of eyes which are looking straight at a goal. The idea is someone who looks steadily at a mark in order to walk a straight path. When I mow my lawn in a diagonal pattern, I do not have the edge of the driveway or side of the road to keep the mower lines nice and straight. I must pick a spot where the grass meets the road on the opposite side of the lawn, stare at it and walk as straight as I can toward it. When I’m successful, the result is a nice, straight pattern.
Job directed his eyes this way. He did not want adulterous thoughts to enter his heart, so he says, “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” (Job 31:1). He would not allow his eyes to wander so as to arouse sinful desires. He would be careful with his eyes. Joseph did this, though Potiphar’s wife certainly did not keep her eyes fixed on godliness. We read, “his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me” (Gen. 39:7). With her eyes, she recognized Joseph to be attractive and desired to satisfy her sinful passion. Joseph, however, guarded his eyes. In fact, Joseph would not even allow himself to be in the same room as she, so his eyes could not fall upon her and lead him into temptation.
We must keep our eyes straight before us, on the single goal of glorifying God. Our eyes must be on the path God sets before us by His Word. Keeping our eyes fixed shows our gratitude for all the blessings He has given to us in Christ. The pleasures of sin do not lie in the path of God’s law. Distractions to a thankful life lie to the right and left. If we allow our eyes to wander from the single purpose of living a thankful life, we expose ourselves to myriad temptations. Were we to follow our eyes, seek the things of this world and satisfy the desires of the old man of sin, we would lose the feeling of God’s favour. We would no longer feel the spiritual warmth of God’s gracious countenance which is more than life to us.
This brings us to eyelids: “Let thine eyelids look straight before thee.” None of the commentaries on my bookshelf mentioned the significance of why Solomon switches from “eyes” to “eyelids.” However, there must be more to the divine inspiration of Scripture than allowing writers literary discretion to avoid dull repetition of terms.
Here is my attempt in dealing with “eyelids.” When I walk a pathway which is smooth and has nothing which would cause me to stumble, I can keep my eyes up to see distant things. However, when the path has many obstacles and I must place each step carefully, my eyes are down. This is when someone coming from the opposite direction sees my eyelids, not my eyes. In the next verse, Solomon writes, “Ponder the path of thy feet,” which has the idea of having to walk carefully. We must have our eyelids straight before us when the path of life becomes more difficult or presents more dangers.
We must take this admonition seriously. Living a Christian life is no joke. This world is not a place of amusement for us. God does not call us to serve ourselves. We may not live a frivolous life. We are engaged in a serious spiritual battle. The stakes are high. Satan is as a lion seeking his prey so we had better be alert, keeping our eyes fixed straight before us and not allowing our eyes to see the sinful distractions which the world offers. If we cannot control our eyes, if we realize they constantly lead us into sin, Christ instructs us, “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matt. 5:29). It is that serious.
Being careful about the use of our eyes is an aspect of keeping our hearts. We must protect our spiritual eyes at all times. We want to enjoy fellowship with God through grateful living. This is the true life of our hearts. May God help us and our children to have our eyes look right on and let our eyelids look straight before us.