Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in to her.…
I. THE STRENGTH BY WHICH ALONE WE CAN OVERCOME EVIL IS TO BE OBTAINED FROM THE SPIRIT OF GOD.
II. THIS SPIRITUAL STRENGTH IS LOST BY US WHEN WE YIELD OURSELVES TO SIN.
III. ONE MAY LOSE THIS SPIRITUAL STRENGTH WITHOUT AT THE MOMENT BEING CONSCIOUS OF THE PRIVATION. Samson "wist not that the Lord was departed from him." That was melancholy enough, but its spiritual antitype is infinitely more so, for it is terribly true that one may become morally feeble through habitual indulgence in sin, and yet at the time be unaware of the change that has passed upon him. How shall we account for this?
1. We may explain it by the fact that all outward things may be with him as they were before. He may be outwardly attentive to the ordinances of religion, but his heart has been given to some earthly object.
2. Another explanation of the unconsciousness of many to the terrible loss of which we speak may be the stealthiness of the growth of the sin which has caused it. No man becomes helplessly wicked all at once.
3. Another reason why a man may be unconscious of the loss of his spiritual strength is the blinding effect of sin upon the conscience. When the snow is untrodden you may easily distinguish the first footprints that are made upon it, but after multitudes have hardened it by their tread, it is no longer possible to mark each separate traveller's tracks. So conscience may take faithful note of the first sins which one commits, but when habits have, as I may say, formed footmarks over it, the soft impressiveness of its early stage has gone, and it becomes impenetrable as a rock.
IV. THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF THIS LOSS OF STRENGTH WILL BE REALISED WHEN THE STRENGTH ITSELF IS MOST NEEDED. You know the dreadful agony of nightmare, when in your dream, being pursued by some assassin, your limbs refuse to perform their office, and you seem to be left in the assailant's power. Such is the experience of the man who discovers in some time of urgency that his strength has departed from him. Enumerate a few of the times of crisis, which will infallibly test whether we have God with us or not: temptation, affliction, death, judgment. As all these are experiences through which every one of us must pass, we ought to be sure that we have strength enough to sustain us in them all. If we have not strength enough for these occasions, we have virtually no strength at all. It is for such times we must prepare, and not for the mere review days of showy profession. Men do not build a ship to lie all decked with bunting in the harbour, but to weather the rough storms of mid-ocean, and the cable that will not bear the toughest strain is in time of hurricane as bad as none at all.
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.