Rise Up, My Love (230): Thank Heaven for Noses!

Song of Solomon 7:5 One of the beauties of the Bible is that—like the U.S. Constitution (but infinitely more so)—it is flexible and ageless. The Holy Spirit can interpret it and reinterpret it to meet the needs of every heart at every stage of life throughout every generation. Although the normal interpretation of the passage (given the knowledge that Solomon did build watch towers to protect his kingdom) is that Solomon was referring to a literal tower, other commentators—well-versed in Hebrew but with perhaps less insight into the historical background (which is continually being broadened through modern archeological research)—suggest that the passage should be translated “a tower of Lebanon” (rather than “the” tower of Lebanon).  (Mountains of Lebanon) These scholars surmise that Solomon was not referencing a particular watch tower, but was rather thinking of the whiteness of the beautiful 10,000 foot limestone cliffs for which the Lebanese mountains were named, since “Lebanon” comes from the root word laben, which means “to be white.”* Here the emphasis would be on the color rather than the size, and would suggest that her nose was also like the beautiful ivory-colored texture of her neck…pure and white…and no longer sunburned. Certainly both theories have merit, and both opinions add to the richness of the spiritual imagery: straightness and strength; whiteness and purity.  Finally, let’s take a pragmatic look at the functions of the human nose. It is the mechanism for the life-giving exchange of air, and it is the organ that mediates the sense of smell. Obviously, air is absolutely essential for life, and in spiritual analogy, a pure, straight “nose” is crucial for the life-giving intake of the breath of God. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). Spiritually, the Holy Spirit… that “wind” that “bloweth where it listeth” (“wherever it pleases” John 3:8, NIV)…is the one who imparts the air of grace to us, strengthening us for our daily walk of faith.  The nose also mediates the sense of smell. What are the advantages of smell? Through the sense of smell we determine the nature of odors: pleasant or unpleasant, familiar or strange. Pleasant, familiar odors normally attract; unpleasant odors repel; and strange odors trigger curiosity if they’re pleasant…or alarm if they are not. Where would we be without noses to sniff the air and warn us of fire? Think how dependent animals are on the sense of smell to help them find food and avoid confrontations with formidable enemies.  (Mount Lebanon) The spiritual parallels come naturally. Spiritually, there is nothing more attractive than the fragrance of Christ and nothing so repelling as the stench of sin. Our “spiritual nose” will warn us of hell fire and the threat of our Satanic foes. It will draw us to the comforting scent of the Good Shepherd and the fragrant Bread of Life. The bride of Christ, with her pure, straight nose, will be drawn to the sweet, familiar savor of Christ, who is “life unto life” to her. But, to those with crooked, impure noses, he and his bride carry the warning scent of “death unto death” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).  Oh, Lord, may be all have spiritual noses that are beautifully straight and well placed…standing strong, tall, and pure as the majestic white cliffs…perfectly placed in the center of our face so that we may breathe fully and easily, sensing immediately the nature of what is before us so that we may flee from evil and eagerly pursue Christ!  “Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love, and do what Thou wouldst do.
Breathe on me, Breath of God, until my heart is pure,
Until my will is one with Thine, to do and to endure.
Breathe on me, Breath of God, till I am wholly Thine,
Until this earthly part of me glows with Thy fire divine.
Breathe on me, Breath of God, so shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life of Thine eternity.” —Edwin Hatch

*G. Lloyd Carr, The Song of Solomon: An Introduction and Commentary (Downer’s Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1984), 159.

 

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