In today’s passage we’ll see Samson not only flirting with temptation but seeking it.
Gaza was an important seaport town located about forty miles from Samson’s hometown of Zorah. We aren’t told why Samson went there, but it’s not likely he was looking for sensual pleasure. There were plenty of prostitutes available in Israel even though the Law condemned this practice (Lev. 19:29; Deut. 22:21). It was after he arrived in Gaza that Samson saw a prostitute and decided to visit her. Once again the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh combined to grip Samson and make him a slave to his passions.
It seems incredible to us that a servant of God (Judg. 15:18), who did great works in the power of the Spirit, would visit a prostitute, but the record is here for all to read. The Lord certainly didn’t approve of such behavior, especially on the part of a Nazirite; and the experience was for Samson one more step down into darkness and destruction. In recent years, there have been enough ministerial scandals in the United States alone to put all of us on guard. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12, NKJV).
We can’t help it when Satan and his demons tempt us; but when we tempt ourselves, we become our own enemy. God doesn’t tempt us (James 1:12-15). When we pray, “Lead us not into temptation” (Matt. 6:13), we’re asking that we not tempt ourselves or put ourselves into such a position that we tempt God. We tempt Him either by forcing Him to intervene and rescue us or by daring Him to stop us. It’s possible for people’s character to deteriorate so much that they don’t have to be tempted in order to sin. All they need is the opportunity to sin, and they’ll tempt themselves. Illicit sexual experience may begin as sweet as honey, but it ends up as bitter as wormwood (Prov. 5:1-14). Samson the man had become Samson the animal as the prostitute led him to the slaughter (Prov. 7:6-23).
Word that their enemy Samson was in town spread to the people of Gaza, and they posted a guard at the city gate to capture him and kill him in the morning. But Samson decided to leave town at midnight, while the guards were asleep. The fact that the city gates were barred didn’t alarm him. He picked up the doors, posts, and bars (they weighed between 700-1000 pounds!) and carried them off! Whether he carried them all the way to Hebron, a distance of about forty miles, or only to a hill that faced Hebron, depends on how you translate Judges 16:3. Both interpretations are possible.
To “possess the gate of his enemies” was a metaphor meaning “to defeat your enemies” (Gen. 22:17; 24:60). *When Jesus spoke about the gates of hell (hades) not prevailing against the church (Matt. 16:18), He was picturing the victory of the church over the forces of Satan and evil. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has “stormed the gates of hell” and carried them off in victory!
Though Christ has the final victory over death, be on your guard, pray and depend on His help to not lose another battle to temptation.
We can be strong with God’s help.
Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) – Old Testament
Life Application Bible Notes