The phrase “eyes of the Lord” is not a very hard phrase to get a start on understanding. It is actually used some 20 times in the OT and a lone 1 time in he NT. Eye, of course, refers to the instrument of sight in human beings. It is what we look and see things through, and is one of the ways we “perceive” the world around us (but not the only or even the final one). It speaks of much more than just “seeing” the physical forms and makeup around us. As so, we must conclude that when it is used of God, it is speaking of the matter of perception and grasping a matter.
The Heb. word for eye, ‘ayin, with parallels in other Near Eastern languages, as we said, is used of the physical organ of man (Gn. 3:6) or beast (30:41), of God anthropomorphically (Ps. 33:18), and also of objects (Ezk. 1:18; cf. Rev. 4:6). The Gk. word ophthalmos has familiar derivations in English. We, for instance” get our word “ophthalmology” from this Greek form.
In Hebrew the physical organs are understood as acting semi-independently and possessing also psychical and moral qualities. Thus the eye not only has sight but is proud (Is. 5:15), has pity (Dt. 7:16), sleep (Gn. 31:40), delight (Ezk. 24:16), etc., and, while Paul emphasizes the interdependence of the physical organs (1 Cor. 12:16ff.), Mt. 5:29 preserves the Hebraic notion of the almost self-contained function of the organ. We also can see, via example in the Scriptures, that the terms is attributed to God with many of those same attributes.
The practice of putting out the eyes of a defeated enemy was common in the East (Jdg. 16:21; 2 Ki. 25:7). This was a symbolic at to underscore and act as a symbol of the effect of the victory over enemies.
The phrase ‘the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him’ (Ps. 33:18) is significant of God’s watchful care (cf. Ps. 1:6).Here in Proverbs 15:3, we see it also symbolic or the omniscience of God as He does that watching over all of men, good and evil both.
Other phrases are:
· ‘eye for eye’ (Lv. 24:20);
· ‘face to face’, literally ‘eye to eye’ (Nu. 14:14);
· ‘before their eyes’, i.e., in full view (Gn. 42:24; cf. Je. 32:12);
· and ‘between your eyes’, i.e., on the forehead (Ex. 13:9), of the phylactery.
Derived usages are: ‘face of the land’ (Heb. Face is the Heb. Word ‘ayin or eye) (Ex. 10:5), and ‘gleaming’ or ‘sparkling’ (Ezek. 1:4; Pr. 23:31) which speaks of pleasure or joy/happiness.
We are forced here to see this as an anthropomorphism, or a humanized idea applies to God. Here Solomon is speaking of the ability of the heavenly God too exercise vigilance over all men at the same time. It has teaching value illustrative of a thing that God does as a part of His nature as Lord over all men.
1. For the evil (the Hebrew word means “to spoil or to break in pieces), there is the implication of accountability on the behalf of all men to God because of the things in their lives that demonstrate this failed or rotten quality they have. This is a matter that all men MUST recognize and submit themselves to.
2. For what Solomon here calls “the good”, meaning those are pleasing, joyful, or agreeable to Him, the implication is that of protection or reward.
“Watch” is a word that refers to keeping lookout over a thing. It was frequently used of military “watches”, looking out for threats or enemies. The idea here is that God keeps “watch” over both the wicked and the good. He is looking to see both the harmful things that the wicked do, keeping them accountable for their actions, as well as the good and their place and function in the plan of God.
In adaptation to human understanding, the omniscience of the Deity is here and elsewhere compared to eyes - “seven eyes,” indicating perfectness (2 Chron. 16:9; Zech. 4:10). They are said to observe, to examine, to behold (as from a watch-tower) the evil and the good everywhere. The doctrine has both its alarming and its comfortable side, but as it is intended first to warn, “the evil” are first spoken of.
The omniscient eye of God observed our first parents in the garden, Joseph and Manasseh in prison, Achan within his tent, Hezekiah on his sick-bed, Nebuchadnezzar in his palace, the three youths in the furnace, Jonah in the whale, Nathanael under the fig-tree, St. Peter on the housetop, Herod on his throne, Lydia by the river-side, St. Paul in the tempest and before Nero, St. John in exile.
It is evident from Holy Scripture that nothing escapes the penetrating eye of God. He sees not only every man, but all his doings and all his thoughts. As our Governor, above all as our Judge, it is essential all should be “naked and open” to His Eyes. He must know all, that He may “rule in righteousness” and “judge righteous judgment.” Man in his sinfulness would prefer an impersonal God, would make of the machinery of Nature a God which he might observe without being himself observed. But the proofs of God’s all-seeing Eye are too irrefutable, and conscience bears witness to It too feelingly, to allow of there being as much atheism spoken as is acted. Yet the inner spirit of the guilty, until reconciled, is atheistic, and he saith with Job’s adulterer, “No eye shall see me” (Job 24:15). The same man would call upon God in time of danger. So easy is it to own omniscience and yet live “without God.” But, indeed, the thought of the all-seeing Eye is too terrible, when realized, to be endured unless we recognize in It the beamings of compassionate love. Am I, in the spirit of adoption, able to look up to God and cry, “Abba, Father”? Then, while the certainty that at every moment “Thou, God, seest me,” will make me watchful not to offend, in private as well as in public, in the church, in the counting-house, in the shop, in the street, wherever I am, it will not fill me with dismay. For I shall remember that He sees “the good” as well as “the evil,” and will reward the honest effort of His child to be good. He sees my faults. He sees my repentance also. He sees me “in the Beloved,” and accepts me for His sake.