Turn Away My Eyes

There are many things to look at in the world that are beyond description in beauty. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork" (Psalms 19:1). A baby's smile will make the heart fill with love. The expression of love in an older couple is a wonderful testimony to the nature of devotion. The list is endless of those things that will inspire the eye with beauty. The wise poet of Psalm 119 made an observation about what we should not look at. "Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way" (Psalms 119:37).

Sadly, there are many "worthless things" that we look at. These things are vain and foolish desires that corrupt the heart and lead us astray from the holiness of God. Our possessions can become what we focus on more than God. Covetousness is the problem of looking at our "stuff" as more important than serving the Lord. Achan admitted the reason he took the forbidden things was that he coveted after them (Joshua 7:21). As a result he lost his life along with the life of his "sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them to the Valley of Achor . So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones" (Joshua 7:24). He should have turned his eyes away (Proverbs 23:5).

King David one evening "arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king's house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold" (2 Samuel 11:2). Instead of turning his eyes away he inquired of the woman, brought her to his house and committed adultery (2 Samuel 11:3-4). The result was a baby born which then died as punishment for the sin of David and Bathsheba. Further judgment was brought upon the house of David because he did not turn his eyes away (2 Samuel 12).

The Lord warns against lusting with the eyes. Job declares that he had "made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman" (Job 31:1)? Jesus admonished in the mountain sermon, "whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). In our world filled with immodesty, pornography (internet especially) and no restrictions on television we must follow the Psalmist in turning our eyes away from worthless things.

How do we turn our eyes away? In our text of Psalm 119:37 it says "Revive me in Your way." Only by letting our lives be found in God and walking with God will our eyes be turned away from evil. "Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil" (Proverbs 4:25-27). Albert Barnes writes, "A man should be thankful in this world that he has eyelids; and as he can close his eyes, so he should often do it."

The prophet Isaiah exhorts the people of God to shut their eyes from evil so that "Your eyes will see the King in His beauty" (Isaiah 33:15-17). We are what we look at and allow to fill our hearts with (Matthew 15:17-20). Jesus said, "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness" (Matthew 6:22-23). Watch what you see!

by Kent Heaton

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