Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in to her.…
Poor Samson! We cannot say much about him by way of an example to believers. He is a beacon to us all, for he shows us that no strength of body can suffice to deliver from weakness of mind. Samson is also a prodigy. He is more a wonder as a believer than he is even as a man. It is marvellous that a man could smite thousands of Philistines with no better weapon than the jawbone of a newly-killed ass, but it is more marvellous still that Samson should be a saint, ranked among these illustrious ones saved by faith, though such a sinner. St. Paul has put him among the worthies in the eleventh chapter of the Hebrews. I look upon Samson's case as a great wonder, put in Scripture for the encouragement of great sinners. If such a man as Samson, nevertheless, prevails by faith to enter the kingdom of heaven, so shall you and I. Though our characters may have been disfigured by many vices, and hitherto we may have committed a multitude of sins, if we can trust Christ to save us He will purge us with hyssop, and we shall be clean; and in our death we shall fall asleep in the arms of sovereign mercy to wake up in the likeness of Christ.
I. LOOK AT OUR MIGHTY CHAMPION AT HIS WORK. You remember when our Samson, our Lord Jesus, came down to the Gaza of this world, 'twas love that brought Him; love to a most unworthy object, for He loved the sinful Church which had gone astray from Him; yet came He from heaven, and left the ease and delights of His Father's palace to put Himself among the Philistines, the sons of sin and Satan here below. There He lies silently in the tomb. He who is to bruise the serpent's head is Himself bruised. O Thou who art the world's great Deliverer, there Thou liest, as dead as any stone! Surely Thy foes have led Thee captive, O Thou mighty Samson! He sleeps; but think not that He is unconscious of what is going on. He knows everything. He sleeps till the proper moment comes, and then our Samson awakes; and what now? He has defeated death; He has pulled up his posts and bar, and taken away his gates. As for sin, He treads that beneath His feet: He has, utterly overthrown it, and Satan lies broken beneath the heel that once was bruised. In sacred triumph He drags our enemies behind Him. Sing to Him! Angels, praise Him in your hymns! Exalt Him, cherubim and seraphim! Our mightier Samson hath gotten to Himself the victory, and cleared the road to heaven and eternal life for all His people!
II. CONSIDER THE WORK ITSELF. We will stand at the gates of this Gaza and see what the Champion has done. He had three enemies. These three beset Him, and He has achieved a threefold victory. There was death. Christ, in being first overcome by death, made Himself a conqueror over death, and hath given us also the victory; for concerning death we may truly say, Christ has not only opened the gates, but He has taken them away; and not the gates only, but the very posts, and the bar, and all. Christ hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light. He hath abolished it in this sense — that, in the first place, the cause of death is gone. Believers die, but they do not die for their sins. The curse of death, then, being taken away, we may say that the posts are pulled up. Christ has taken away the after-results of death, the soul's exposure to the second death. There is no hell for you, believer. Christ has taken away posts, and bar, and all. Death is not to you any longer the gate of torment, but the gate of paradise. Moreover, Christ has not only taken away the curse, and the after-tumults of death, but from many of us he has taken away the fear of death. He came on purpose to deliver "those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Besides, there is a sense in which it may be said that Christians never die at all. "He that liveth and believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." "He that liveth and believeth in Me shall never die." They do not die; they do but "sleep in Jesus, and are blessed." But the main sense in which Christ has pulled up the posts of the gates of death is that He has brought in a glorious resurrection. If you have imagination, let the scene now present itself before your eyes. Christ the Samson sleeping in the dominions of death; death boasting and glorifying itself that now it has conquered the Prince of Life; Christ waking, striding to that gate, dashing it aside, taking it upon His shoulders, carrying it away, and saying as He mounts to heaven, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? " Another host which Christ had to defeat was the army of sin. Christ had come among sinners, and sins beset Him round. Your sins and my sins beleaguered the Saviour till He became their captive. In Him was no sin, and yet sins compassed Him about like bees. Sin was imputed to Him; the sins of all His people stood in His way to keep Him out of heaven as well as them. I may say, therefore, that all our sins stood in the way of Christ's resurrection; they were the great iron gate, and they were the bar of brass, that shut Him out from heaven. Doubtless, we might have thought that Christ would be a prisoner for ever under the troops of sin, but oh, see how the mighty Conqueror, as He bears our sins "in His own body on the tree," stands with unbroken bones beneath the enormous load. See how He takes those sins upon His shoulders, and carries them right up from His tomb, and hurls them away into the deep abyss of forgetfulness, where, if they be sought for, they shall not be found any more for ever. Then there was a third enemy, and he also has been destroyed — that was Satan. Our Saviour's sufferings were not only an atonement for sin, but they were a conflict with Satan, and a conquest over him. Satan is a defeated foe. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church; but, what is more, Christ has prevailed against the gates of hell. As for Satan, the posts, and bar, and all have been plucked up from his citadel in this sense — that Satan has now no reigning power over believers. He may bark at us like a dog, and he may go about like a roaring lion, but to rend and to devour are not in his power.
III. We will now see HOW WE CAN USE THIS VICTORY. Surely there is some comfort here. You have a desire to be saved; God has impressed you with a deep sense of sin; the very strongest wish of your soul is that you might have peace with God. But you think there are so many difficulties in the way — Satan, your sins, and I know not what. Let me tell thee, in God's name there is no difficulty whatever in the way except in thine own heart, for Christ has taken away the gates of Gaza — gates, post, bar, and all. They are all gone. Is not this an incentive for us who profess to be servants of Christ to go out and fight with the world and overcome it for Christ? Where Jesus leads us it needs not much courage to follow. "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof." Let us go and take it for Him!
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.