The Victim and the Victor
Judges 16:1-31
Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in to her.…

I remember once walking with a man ever a large mortgaged farm; the poor owner had fallen somehow in the rear of life; and some years before he had mortgaged the whole property. He began life badly, and when I knew him he had been past the prime of life, for some time ineffectually trying to overtake old mistakes. But it is a difficult matter for the wisdom of to-day to overtake the folly of yesterday. Thus a mortgaged life is far more affecting and hopeless than a mortgaged farm; and there are those who mortgage their lives, and they cannot redeem them. Some mortgage health by the excesses of intemperance. Oh, it is a sad spectacle, a man trying to overtake or trying to repossess a mortgaged life. Of course a nature like Samson's was especially in danger from women; and there were women in Sorek! His is the old story; so all these heroes fell. Thus it was with Hercules and Omphale; and Hercules, as we have said, was the strong Samson of the ancient classic world; his story is so like that of Samson that some have not unnaturally supposed it derived from Hebrew story. Omphale was the queen of Lydia, and Hercules fell in love with her, and became her slave for three years, and led an effeminate life in winding and carding wool, while Omphale wore the skin of the tremendous Nemean lion he had slain! What a parable! He had squeezed the lion to death; and 0mphale pressed out his manhood in her embrace! Thus it was with Antony and Cleopatra; thus it was with Henry IV. of France. Few, like Ulysses, have passed in safety the isle of Syrens; few escape Calypso! One of the great masters of modern poetry has, with subtle and matchless power, in the "Idylls of the King," drawn in Vivien the very illustration of the history before us; you pity, you feel contempt for, the great prince lying there, his head in the lap of the Syren of Sorek; you cannot believe it! You say, "Did he not know?" You say, "Could there be such matchless folly? Could he surrender his secret?" Yes, wise men fall, great men fall! Notice the manner of Samson's fall; it was by the extortion of his secret; therefore has it been said, "Keep thine heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues," or, which is the same thing, within it is the secret of life. There are around us constantly those who seek to know our secret, the secret of our strength and of our weakness; for there is a dangerous secret, there is in all of us a charm; we know it. Surrender to others the charm, and they put it forth against us. And then the victim lies dead; "lost to life, and use, and name, and fame." You remember the wonderful dream of John Newton. He was, he thought, in the harbour of Venice, on the deck of a ship, when a stranger brought him a ring of inestimable value, giving him charge to keep it, because its loss would entail on him trouble and misery. The ring was accepted, and also the responsibility of keeping it; but while he was meditating on the value of the ring, a second person appeared. He talked to him about the supposed value and virtues of the ring; he laughed at the idea of its value, and, in the end, advised him to throw it away. He plucked it from his finger, and threw it into the sea. Immediately, from the Alps, behind Venice, burst forth flames; and the tempter, laughing, told him that he was a fool, that the whole mercy of God was in that ring. He trembled with agony and fear, when a third person came, or the same who had first given him the ring; he blamed his rashness, but, exactly where the ring went down, he plunged, and brought it up again; instantly the Alps ceased their burning, and the seducer fled. He approached his friend, expecting to receive again the ring. "No," said his friend, "if you kept it, you would soon bring your self into the same distress. You are not able to keep it; I will keep it for you, and produce it, when needful, on your behalf." A wonderful dream — do not doubt it. We all have something to keep — something precious. We must not let the enemy of our spirits steal our secret from us. Do you remember Samson in the lap of Delilah? Samson had his secret; "Show me," said the crafty woman, "wherein thy great strength lieth." But Samson kept his secret. "How canst thou say," said she, "I love thee, when thy heart is not with me?" So he gave up his secret; he parted with his heart. "Then, in one moment, she put forth the charm of woven paces and waving hands; and he lay as dead, and lost to life, and use, and name, and fame." Then they burst forth into laughter. "Ha! ha! ha! Samson, where is thy secret now? Ha! Ha! "But he had parted with his heart; he had lost, he had mortgaged his secret. "And was lost to life, and use, and name, and fame." And what a spectacle is that of Samson asleep! Behold here the recklessness, the carelessness, of the tempted soul. There is but one thing more; the price of his ruin is paid, now awake him! "The Philistines be upon thee, Samson! And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord had departed from him." He rouses, but all is lost! How strange it all seemed; how new! Where am I? What?" No man knows well the value of what he has had until he has lost it. A character gone! Young Weltly sat at his desk; a clerk came to him and said, "Weltly, Mr. Drummond, the principal, wants to speak to you." He went into the office; he knew! The principal looked to the inspector of police standing by. "There's your prisoner, sir." And the lost young man held out his hands mechanically for the handcuffs. Poor boy! they were not needed, but it was a lost life! So here strength is gone! character is gone! Israel has lost her hero! her hero has lost himself! He surrendered "the secret of the Lord," which is only "with them that fear Him," and awoke to find the Spirit of the Lord departed from him!

(E. P. Hood.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.

WEB: Samson went to Gaza, and saw there a prostitute, and went in to her.

The Secret of Samson's Strength
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