Every once in a while, I read something in Scripture that really makes me wonder, “Really? He did that?” This is one of them. I even wonder why the author even included it. I was going back and forth trying to decide whether Samson was strong all the time, or only when the Spirit of Yahweh came upon him. At least this passage answers that.
Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her. When it was told to the Gazites, saying, “Samson has come here,” they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. And they kept silent all night, saying, “Let us wait until the morning light, then we will kill him.” Now Samson lay until midnight, and at midnight he arose and took hold of the doors of the city gate and the two posts and pulled them up along with the bars; then he put them on his shoulders and carried them up to the top of the mountain which is opposite Hebron. (Judges 16:1 — 3 NASB)
The whole account is just off. Samson goes looking in Gaza for a prostitute? Are they famous for those, or something? This isn’t the “temple prostitute” either. This your garden variety, pay for it in the alley, working girl. Why? Why is Samson in Gaza, why the prostitute? And before you say, “he’s a weak male” or something else stereotypical, remember that he’s now a judge of Israel. Things have changed for Samson. Sometimes people grow into a position. Samson seems to have regressed out of it. He was there, and lost it.
In any case, Samson is in Gaza, and with a prostitute. Next, his enemies try and ambush him. But this has to be the most inept attempt to ambush on record. These Gazites surround him, then wait for him in the gate. What does that even mean? And that is what it says in Hebrew. Now, the grammar is disjointed, but that’s not unusual Hebrew construction. These Keystone Cops, they have him surrounded, but then wait quietly in the city gate. I suppose they figured he was trapped in Gaza until dawn and the gates opened, so why worry. But why not at least keep a lookout for trouble?
There was no lookout, and they missed one amazing spectacle. In one of the most detailed descriptions of action in the entire account of Samson, the writer has him lifting out the city gates in their entirety. Nothing left, no doors, no posts, no bars, nothing. The most heavily defended part of a city defence, and Samson picks it up, and walks away with it. He doesn’t drag it, he carries it up the highest hill, one from where you can see the lights of Hebron. He doesn’t do a mic drop, he drops the gates. Done.
I’m pretty sure the point is the embarrassment of the Philistines. I’m pretty sure that’s the writer’s whole point. Samson cannot be touched by them, they’re powerless over him. Surround him, ambush him, it doesn’t matter. He can’t be trapped, he can’t be tied, or bound. Gates can’t contain him. The most powerful people in that part of the world are powerless against one man.
God uses Samson regardless of his obedience. Yahweh’s power is made obvious to these Philistines. Their God, Dagon, can’t help them against one man. Yet, they can’t be wrong, and continue to resist, not just Samson, but Yahweh. Not a great plan, and one that doesn’t work well for them in the end.
That’s all I have this morning. What’s your view through your knot hole this morning?