Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in to her.…
His character is unlike that of the other heroes of Hebrew story. Alone in the Old Testament he overflows with joyfulness. His very name is probably associated with the sunshine — "sunlike." He is light of heart, and his courage rises in the hour of danger. He has a sportive wit which sparkles in rhythmic couplets, flashes in epigrams, plays upon words. It will not be forgotten that the great child of daring and genius is brought up a Neziyr-Elohim with his vow of abstinence. Unquestionably, he derived an inward strength of a certain kind from the conviction that he was indeed God's own, consecrated to Him from his mother's womb. Certainly, also, the circumstances which called him to be a judge must have had a strengthening and ennobling influence. We must remember that in Israel God's Spirit takes the place which in human history is ascribed to natural genius. But this influence of the Spirit was a gift and not necessarily a sanctifying grace. Now, such measure of spiritual strength as may have been given to Samson by his being a Neziyr-Elohim was, so to speak, artificial. No chain is stronger than its weakest link; no vow is stronger than the will behind it. Add to this, that the vow only covers an isolated fragment of the world of moral duty. Unnatural strictness in one direction sometimes compensates itself by unnatural laxity in another. Samson was a rigid total abstainer. I mean no unworthy sneer at a cause to which I wish well. But if Samson was a rigid total abstainer, so I believe is the Mormon, and so I know is the Moslem. At all events, Samson's strictness in one direction was compensated for by laxity in another. A fiercer passion than that for wine coursed through the hero's veins, and set his blood on fire. The unrivalled bodily strength co-exists with abject moral weakness. Why will so many novelists and poets speak as if strength and passion were almost convertible terms? What we call the strength of passion is really its weakness. It is not passion, but the repression of passion, which is really strong. And the strongest character is that in which what are called the strongest passions are held in leash by the sternest will. Lessons:
1. Flee from every sin that has light in its eye, and honey upon its tongue. Flee from the touch that wins, but blisters as it touches, and fills the vein with fire.
2. A second lesson derived from the fallen Nazarite is the weakness of our will; the helplessness of our resolutions; their imperfect and partial action upon our moral nature. How, then, is the will to be emancipated and strengthened? I am not now speaking of prudential rules, and humble efforts, indispensable though they are — I am not just yet speaking of a sacramental means of grace — but of ultimate Divine principles.
(1) The strengthening of our will comes from the sympathy of Christ. In this we have a law of our human nature perfected. When our will needs an accession of strength, we find such accession by bringing it to a higher will. And the higher and purer that other will may be, with the stronger grasp shall it lay hold upon our sinking resolutions.
(2) The strengthening of our will further comes from the inward gift of the Spirit. The great gift of the new covenant is (Jeremiah 31:33). In those whose will Christ emancipates there is a supernatural power, conforming the man to the law, not dispensing him from it.
3. And now we are led to see from all this the fitness and reasonableness of the view entertained by the Church of the reality of grace in sacraments and ordinances.
(Abp. Wm. Alexander.).
Parallel VersesKJV: Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.