When I was a child, my father installed a deadbolt on the front door of our home. Since at the time it was the safest lock we knew, we felt very well-protected! Times have changed, though, and nowadays many homeowners set up high-tech security systems, complete with video cameras and motion sensors.
In biblical times, the city gate played a significant role in protecting and defending against enemies. To keep a hostile army out of a walled city, they simply shut and barred the gate. God’s loving strength exercised in “wonderful deeds” on behalf of His people is pictured using this same image of a city gate in Psalm 107: “He breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron” (vv. 15–16). That’s what makes Samson’s feat in today’s reading so amazing. Samson singlehandedly tore loose the doors and posts of the city gate of Gaza and walked off with them (v. 3)! Not only did they likely weigh a total of 400–500 pounds, they were also firmly anchored and reinforced. While the Philistines had planned to trap and ambush Samson in Gaza, they never stood a chance. All by himself, he wrecked the city’s main defense.
The Lord had blessed Samson with incredible physical strength, but he weakened himself by toying with sin and temptation. Maybe that is why he thought he could get away with sin. He taunted Delilah and failed to take warning from her betrayals. Eventually, his moral strength failed and he disobeyed God by telling his secret (v. 16), disrespecting his Nazirite vow and God’s special gift of strength (v. 20). Samson’s physical strength contrasted starkly and tragically with his moral and spiritual weakness.
>> Do you consider yourself strong: physically or spiritually? Samson’s story reminds us that we should never confuse God’s strength with our own. Don’t mess with sin! Samson acted as if he were in control and invincible, instead of trusting and relying on the Lord (Prov. 3:5–6).