Pleasure and Peril in Gaza
Judges 16:1-31
Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in to her.…

For what reason did Samson go down to Gaza? We imagine that in default of any excitement such as he craved in the towns of his own land, he turned his eyes to the Philistine cities which presented a marked contrast. There life was energetic and gay, there many pleasures were to be had. New colonists were coming in their swift ships, and the streets presented a scene of constant animation. The strong, eager man, full of animal passions, found the life he craved in Gaza where he mingled with the crowds and heard tales of strange existence. Nor was there wanting the opportunity for enjoyment which at home he could not indulge. A constant peril this of seeking excitement, especially in an age of high civilisation. The means of variety and stimulus are multiplied, and even the craving outruns them — a craving yielded to, with little or no resistance, by many who should know better. The moral teacher must recognise the desire for variety and excitement as perhaps the chief of all the hindrances he has now to overcome. For one who desires duty there are scores who find it dull and tame and turn from it, without sense of fault, to the gaieties of civilised society in which there is so little of the positively wrong that conscience is easily appeased. The religious teacher finds the demand for "brightness" and variety before him at every turn; he is indeed often touched by it himself, and follows with more or less of doubt a path that leads straight from his professed goal. "Is amusement devilish?" asks one. Most people reply with a smile that life must be lively or it is not worth having. And the Philistinism that attracts them with its dash and gaudiness is not far away nor hard to reach. It is not necessary to go across to the Continent, where the brilliance of Vienna or Paris offers a contrast to the grey dulness of a country village; nor even to London where, amid the lures of the midnight streets, there is peril of the gravest kind. Those who are restless and foolhardy can find a Gaza and a valley of Sorek nearer home, in the next market town. Philistine life, lax in morals, full of rattle and glitter, heat and change, in gambling, in debauchery, in sheer audacity of movement and talk, presents its allurements in our streets, has its acknowledged haunts in our midst. Young people brought up to fear God in quiet homes whether of town or country, are enticed by the whispered counsels of comrades half-ashamed of the things they say, yet eager for more companionship in what they secretly know to be folly or worse. Young women are the prey of those who disgrace manhood and womanhood by the offers they make, the insidious lies they tell. The attraction once felt is apt to master. As the current that rushes swiftly bears them with it, they exult in the rapid motion even while life is nearing the fatal cataract. Subtle is the progress of infidelity. From the persuasion that enjoyment is lawful and has no peril in it, the mind quickly passes to a doubt of the old laws and warnings. Is it so certain that there is a reward for purity and unworldliness? Is not all the talk about the life to come a jangle of vain words? The present is a reality, death a certainty, life a swiftly passing possession. They who enjoy know what they are getting. The rest is dismissed as altogether in the air.

(R. A. Watson, M. A.)

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.

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