The word for looking at something in the Hebrew language is typically ראה (rah). After Lot separates from Abram and goes down into the valley to reside among the Sodomites, God has Abram lift up his eyes and look (rah) at the land, showing him all that his descendants will receive, Genesis 13:14. To gaze up on a person is expressed by שׁור (sor), Job 7:8. Those who see (rah) Job will no longer glance (sor) upon him. נבט (nabat) then relates to seeing in a way that gives regard to something; therefore, it is not specifically referring to the physical appearance, but of consideration or concern.

The distinctions in different words for how we see, are important to understand because by their use we are expressing specific meaning. When Lot’s wife turned and looked at Sodom after they had been rescued from its destruction by the Lord, she did not turn and physically glance at the city, or in fleeing decide to turn around and go back to Sodom. She turned her regard back to this extremely wicked place, and as a result God included her in the judgment by turning her to a pillar of salt, Genesis 19:26.

When Abraham is told to look towards the heaven and count the stars, God is not focusing on their appearance but on giving regard to all the stars in the heavens, Genesis 15:5. After God speaks to Moses through the burning bush, Moses hides his face so as to not look intensely or give regard to what he was seeing, Exodus 3:6. Later, the people of Israel give regard to Moses every time he goes out to the tent of meeting. When Moses entered the tent the pillar of cloud would stand at the door of the tabernacle, for God spoke with Moses face to face as with a friend, and all the people saw this, Exodus 33:8. After Israel regrets speaking against the Lord for bringing them out of Egypt, because their rebellion brought fiery serpents among them for punishment, Moses was instructed by God to make a serpent and place it on a pole. After that, when someone was bitten by a poisonous snake, if they regarded the bronze serpent they lived, Numbers 21:8-9. They were to turn their mind towards the serpent and give regard to it, which would have reminded them of their revolt against God and the reason for the fiery serpents being sent among them. When Samuel was instructed to anoint the new King of Israel because Saul had disobeyed God and lost his right to rule, he sees Eliab, the son of Jesse and states that surely this is the one that God has appointed; however, God tells Samuel that he is not to give regard to his appearance, for the Lord does not see as men see, who only look upon the outward appearance, 1 Samuel 16:7. In Psalm 119, David writes of the man who is undefiled and walks in the law of the Lord. When he is giving regard to the law of God, he does not turn to perversity and is therefore not ashamed of his actions, Psalm 119:6. He meditates on the precepts of God and gives regard to His ways, Psalm 119:15. This is the one who requests that God will open his eyes so that he can give regard to the wondrous things from His law, Psalm 119:16.

Lot’s wife was not turned to a pillar of salt because she turned and looked at the destruction of Sodom; rather, she turned her mind back to the wicked ways of the city and gave regard for them. After speaking against God and Moses, the people of Israel that were bitten by a poisonous snake where not to just glance at the bronze snake, but give regard to it, reminding them of their rebellion and the consequences it brought. The Israelite who regarded God’s law did not turn to perversity for he meditated on the precepts of God and regarded His ways. David was selected as the king of Israel because Samuel was instructed not to give regard to the appearance of the man; rather, God’s anointed one would be chosen based upon who he is, not what he looks like.

The concept of sight is very interesting, for it is not only with the eyes that we see. Just as David wrote concerning the one who gives regard to the law of God, so we as Christians are to give consideration to what God’s standards and ways are for us. We do not live under the Mosaic law as inarticulate babblers who never mature; rather, we live out from faith by grace and are therefore able to train our senses to know what is proper for us to do in any situation. When we give regard to God’s standards for us, we will walk in the truth while using the faith, and therefore will be led by the Holy Spirit as we seek to fulfill His desires in our lives, which will produce a life that rejects perversity because we are giving consideration to the ways of God, for it is not the things that are glanced upon that matter, but the things not seen, yet still perceived, that are eternal, 2 Corinthians 4:18.