Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, and revive me in Your ways.
The psalmist expresses his need for help when it comes to his eyes. There are dangers and distractions everywhere! Consider how Achan and David found themselves in great trouble because of their eyes.
So Achan answered Joshua and said, “Truly, I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel, and this is what I did: when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them; and behold, they are concealed in the earth inside my tent with the silver underneath it.”
Joshua 7:20–21 (emphasis mine)
Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance.
2 Samuel 11:2 (emphasis mine)
Keep in mind that David may have been the author of this particular Psalm. He would certainly be well aware of the devastating consequences of wandering eyes!
While sight is a wonderful gift, it also comes with hazards. The psalmist prays for God’s help in keeping him from looking at vanity. But he also realizes that the solution to the problem is not just to turn our eyes away from those things that are clearly worthless. It is also to be revived in God’s ways. In other words, we must set a course that is clearly pleasing to God. We must focus our attention on pursuing righteousness. The reason we want to turn away from that which is sinful and destructive is because we want to live a life that brings glory to God.
The apostle John captures this very important principle. He provides a contrast between those who live according to the lusts of this world and those who live to do the will of God.
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:15–17
In three simple verses, the book of Proverbs reminds us to keep our eyes set right:
Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil.