Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in to her.…
I. THE RIGHT RELATION OF MAN TO GOD IS THE CONDITION OF HIS REAL STRENGTH. There were many remarkable circumstances connected with the birth of Samson; and the angel who appeared to his mother gave her most minute directions about the training of the child, that thus he might be fitted for the great work to which he was designated. Where there is a right relation to God there is personal dedication, and as the result there will be separateness and sanctity. The consecrated man was to be temperate and chaste, to avoid everything that would defile him. You are not to suffer the flesh to overshadow the spirit. You are to "abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul"; to mortify your members which are upon the earth; and to keep your body under and bring it into subjection. The Divine presence will be recognised by the man who stands in a right relation to God — the true strength of the man is in God. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson — moving him at times, rousing him to activity — stirring up his whole nature to great and heroic deeds, and giving him strength to do them. You realise the Divine presence. You can say, "I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved." God is with you in all events and circumstances — in all conflicts and victories — in life and in death.
II. THIS RELATION TO GOD MAY BE WEAKENED AND BROKEN, AND THEN THE STRENGTH OF THE MAN DEPARTS.
1. This may be the result of an unhallowed alliance. This was the first wrong step on the part of Samson. Marriage is the oldest human institute, and the one that has been most perverted and abused. In many instances the two never become one — and never can become one — but must remain in awful separateness and loneliness. Their souls never touch each other at any point. In many instances there are no true affinities — no real, abiding love. Marriage is sometimes created by mere excitement or passion — it is based on prudential or mercenary motives. Where there are no mental or moral fitnesses, these ill-assorted matches become the pregnant source of the miseries and wretchedness that abound in the world.
2. This relation may be broken through the indulgence of unrestrained passions. The strong man is a child when governed by his passions; he has no self-mastery or control — his affections are misplaced; they have degenerated into passions. His weakness is known — not the secret of his strength — but men take advantage of his weakness to find out where his strength lies, that they may thus deprive him of it. Our weaknesses lead to the loss of strength.
3. A man may lose his strength and yet live in the experiences of the past. The man's strength was gone, but "he wist not that the Lord had departed from him."
4. When a man departs from the Lord, it is certain the Lord will depart from him.
5. When God departs from a man, the consequence will be that the man loses his strength. He cannot retain his strength and lose God. When he falls into the hands of his enemies, then comes the fearful consciousness of his loss. What a contrast between strength and weakness — light and darkness — liberty and captivity!
III. THIS RELATION MAY BE RENEWED, AND THE STRENGTH RESTORED. "Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow after he was shaven." The man turns to God. This is true repentance. In the parable, the son when he has spent all — when he has nothing left — when a mighty famine comes, and he begins to be in want — when his servitude is the most degrading — comes to himself, and says, "I will arise," etc. So the captivity and wretchedness of this man may have awakened reflection, and led to repentance.
IV. STRENGTH MAY BE RESTORED, BUT THERE ARE SOME THINGS THAT ARE LOST FOR EVER. There is the return of strength, but not of sight. Sin does fearful injury. You may return after your backslidings — God may forgive you. There are some things you have lost — freshness, purity, peace, wholeness, light, joy. You know you are pardoned, but the light is gone. You walk softly. There are the traces and scars of the past. The lightning has scathed you — has blinded you. Never think lightly of sin; it is an evil and a bitter thing — darkness follows it.
(H. J. Bevis.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.