22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then, if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!Matthew 6:22-23
Did you know the only organ more complex than the eye is the brain?
Though a small part of the body, the eyes are powerful. They’re a combination of external and internal attributes. They’re sensitive, deep, telling, and complex. We often consider the eyes the window to the soul and even though it’s how we perceive the world and our own reality, there’s a lot more than meets the ‘eye.’
In the Hebrew culture, the eye often represents a person’s perception, motive, or attitude. Our response to others or situations shows whether we have a “good eye.” And though the link isn’t common in the Western world, we can often tell a lot about a person just by their eyes. We’ve learned at some point that maintaining eye contact is important in interviews, relationships, and telling the truth. It’s an “honest” habit to have.
Our eyes reveal more than our mouths can utter words. They help us with sight and insight, for ourselves and for others. In this next section of Psalm 119, I want to share how the meaning of the 16th Hebrew letter, Ayin, influences the psalmist’s verses.
Through his seeking of the Word, he continuously sets his eyes on God and finds that no matter what life brings, he must look to God to cultivate truth perceptions, pure heart motives, and a noteworthy attitude according to God’s Word and will.
DEFINITION OF AYIN
The word Ayin (pronounced “ah-yeen”) means “eye” or “to see”. And by extension (the deeper concept of its meaning) it means to understand and obey. It is also a silent letter, for it “sees” and doesn’t speak, to which some scholars say this letter reveals an attitude of humility. But it can also represent hidden motives of the heart, such as fostering idolatry or envy within.
Throughout the Bible, there are verses that show this connection with the eyes (ex: Isaiah 6:10, Matthew 13:15). That there’s more to our eyes than just being able to see. The eyes represent our sight and insight. They symbolize our perceptions, motives, and attitude.
Your perception is how you see and understand something. It’s like a mental impression. It’s how you see yourself, the world, and God.
Your motives are your reasons for doing something. They’re not always visible to others, because they are deeply woven in your heart. But this is what God sees at all times.
And your attitude reveals how the world views you through your behavior. It’s your state of mind in all situations and a reflection of your heart. A mirror of your inside world to the outside world. This is what others see in you.
In Psalm 119:121-128, you’ll understand that it’s possible to fill yourself with light, purity, and trust in God to continue living in righteousness. That it’s possible to live with God’s reality, have pure motives, and a good attitude continuously.
121 I have done justice and righteousness; Do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Be a guarantor for Your servant for good; Do not let the arrogant oppress me.
123 My eyes fail with longing for Your salvation, And for Your righteous word.
124 Deal with Your servant according to Your graciousness, And teach me Your statutes.
125 I am Your servant; give me understanding, So that I may know Your testimonies.
126 It is time for the Lord to act, For they have broken Your Law.
127 Therefore I love Your commandments Above gold, yes, above pure gold.
128 Therefore I carefully follow all Your precepts concerning everything, I hate every false way.PSALM 119:121-128
Perceptions: Your View of Self, God, & Others
Verses 121-122 are some of the only verses that don’t mention God’s Word in this chapter. The psalmist emphasizes on it everywhere else, but here we can see how for a moment his eyes came off the Word and turned to his oppressors; his fear.
Our perception determines how we view ourselves, God, and others. When you become too self-focused, it will feel like everyone and everything is against you. Like the psalmist, though he stated his “right-doings” at the start of both verses, it’s as if he relied more on himself instead of on God. He saw himself outside of God’s light and got filled with fear.
Let your perception get filled with light by looking at God’s Word. As God’s vessel, it’s your responsibility to cultivate a life filled with God’s light which casts out darkness and fear. By setting your mind on things above (Colossians 3:2), and on the spirit, you receive life and peace (Romans 8:6).
When you look to God’s Word and fall in love with the truth it brings, your reality will get filled with His light, which will alter your perception to shine God’s light wherever you look. You can do this by giving thanks, prayer, and studying the Word.
Motives: God’s View of Your Heart
In the next three verses, the psalmist includes the Word of God and cries out from the depths of his heart. Through his descriptive prayer, we can almost feel the anguish through the words, which ultimately reveal the motives behind his heart.
When you change your perceptions, as the psalmist did here, and look to God and His Word, you fill yourself with truth that leads to transformation deep within – the motives of your heart! Your heart gets purified, for it’s not consumed by self or worldly things, which leads you to long for the things of God. Through this heart-changed prayer, he gets filled with pure intentions to live according to God’s Word.
Only God sees and understands your heart and its motives fully. Even in your hardships, He helps you see where the truth is and leads you to live by it. The psalmist sets an example to have readiness to learn no matter how difficult a situation gets. He fills himself with truth to have pure intentions before the Lord before acting in his situations and around others.
The pursuit of pure motives results in having peace when situations call for getting upset or distraught. Fill yourself with God’s truth and let the intentions and motives of your heart become pure before the Lord. You can do this by studying the Word in historical and cultural context, getting mentorship from trustworthy leaders, or getting into a Bible-focused community where open-discussion is welcome.
Attitude: Others’ View of You
In verses 126-128, the psalmist chooses how to behave “on the outside.” Because he filled his perception with light and his heart with truth, his attitude reflects this. What is on the inside is now on the outside, and in his case, it’s filled with trust in God to move on his behalf.
Your attitude is the surface-level of how others see you. It’s their perception of you, which can get affected by the way you treat them; your attitude. It stems from your motives, which stems from your perception.
This reveals the words behind your eyes. It’s your chance to let your walk with God become louder than your talk about God.
The decision to continue following God’s precepts concerning everything and hating every false way comes from first filling yourself with God’s light (the way you see), His truth (the way you respond), then with trust in Him (the way you live).
The Bible is trustworthy in determining if we have a good “eye.” So, it’s important to remain open-minded, open-hearted, and available to learn because we never know what’s going on behind the eyes of the person next to us.
Let your attitude become a byproduct of your trust in God. You can do this by serving others, whether by acts of kindness or words of encouragement; by praying for others; and last, doing all things (whether at work or home) with carefulness and excellence, as unto the Lord. Through this, others get to see what it’s like to have a relationship with God.
When the Bible gives us history, it is right and true; the events actually happened as described.David Quzik Commentary
When the Bible gives us poetry, it is right and true; the feeling and experiences were real for the writer and ring true to human experience.When the Bible gives us prophecy, it is right and true; the events described will come to pass, just as it is written.
When the Bible gives us instruction, it is right and true; it truly does tell us the will of God and the best way of life.
When the Bible tells us of God, it is right and true; it reveals to us what the nature and heart and mind of God is, as much as we can comprehend.
Ultimately, how we see ourselves and God results in our attitude. Now and then, depending on our relationships, others can see pieces of our hearts and understand our motives, but this is first shaped by our perception and heart motive. If our perception gets determined by self or the world, our motives will seldom be pure.
However, when we turn to God and His Word, we can unlearn the ways of the world which will help us have a “good eye.” When our eyes are clear, like Jesus said, our bodies get filled with light, resulting in knowledge of God’s truth, and affecting our attitudes to reflect Him more.
What are your thoughts on each point?
How does your perception of yourself and the world affect your motives?
How do your motives affect your attitude?
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