Song of Solomon 7:5 “Thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus.” Damascus was the capital of Syria, and although the Syrians were chronic enemies of Israel, during the zenith of Solomon’s reign the political control of his kingdom not only included Damascus, but extended another three hours north and east to Tadmor, which was half way to the Euphrates River. As Solomon’s kingdom grew, he continually built watch towers along the perimeter to guard his land from enemy attack, so a reference to a defense tower placed in the mountain range of Lebanon facing Damascus (which would have been to guard Israel from enemy troops advancing from the Syrian capital through the mountains toward Jerusalem) indicates that the Song of Solomon was probably written near the beginning of Solomon’s reign.* This is consistent with the highly romantic but not implausible theory that Shulamith (“Mrs. Solomon”) was indeed Solomon’s first wife, and that perhaps her untimely death at an early age triggered a long and fruitless search for a replacement. (Hence, the three hundred wives and 700 concubines whom he eventually gathered into his harem…and who ruined him spiritually.) As one with the conviction that a monogamous marriage between one man and one woman was God’s design from the creation of Eve to the present, this is the only theory that satisfies my soul, and I cling to it with peaceful tenacity! (See Genesis 2:24; Isaiah 54:5-6 [consider that God Himself only has one wife: Israel, to whom he has been and will be eternally faithful]; Malachi 2:15; Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:31; I Timothy 3:2,12; Titus 1:6; and Revelation 21:9.) But, back to our main subject. What did the tower of Lebanon look like? Delitzsch suggested that this comparison conveyed “symmetrical beauty combined with awe-inspiring dignity.”** That seems an apt, well chosen description. Without a doubt the reference to a tower brings to mind prominence and straight lines.Noses can “make or break” the sense of beauty in many faces, and although no one seems to greatly admire huge, prominent noses, straight, well-shaped noses often lend a sense of character to faces, giving them a courageous-appearing countenance, as if strength of line bespeaks strength of character. To describe the wife’s nose as a tower gives the feeling of a nose that descends in a straight line from the brow to the mouth (not broken or crooked)…a “tower” strong and unable to be turned aside. Spiritually, this brings to mind an impregnable fortress against which “the gates of hell shall not prevail” (Matthew 16:18). Furthermore, a nose “which looketh toward Damascus” is a nose placed squarely in the middle of a face like a watch tower supporting two eyes that are circumspectly facing the enemy. The bride of Christ is a woman of character and strength who is watchfully facing the enemy of our souls, Satan, and heeding God’s admonitions. Although we can’t do anything about the shape or size of our physical noses (apart from plastic surgery), as part of the bride of Christ, we can be spiritually beautiful and strong by heeding God’s admonitions to be watchful: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). Notes:
*Paige Patterson, Song of Solomon (Chicago: Moody, 1986), 106.
** G. Lloyd Carr, The Song of Solomon: An Introduction and Commentary (Downer’s Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1984), 159.
(I took the photos of people while watching First Knight, a 1995 reinterpretation of Camelot with a more virtuous Gwinevere and Lancelot than usual. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I know we can’t all look like movie stars, but by God’s grace, we can all be virtuous if we’re willing! I took the photos of the towers in Tunisia, not Lebanon.)