And the men of Bethshemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? and to whom shall he go up from us?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Who is able to stand?—There is some superstition involved in this exclamation, “Whither shall we send this awful visitant?” The men of the priestly city of Beth-shemesh strangely connected their invisible King with that golden Ark, which, sacred though it was, was but a lifeless chest of wood and gold.
Yet through their superstition we can discern a deep consciousness of sin and shortcoming, which argued well for the future reformation of the religious life of the people—a grand work, which we shall soon sec Samuel the prophet labouring so faithfully and so successfully to bring about. These poor sinners, discerning the cause of the fatal stroke which had fallen upon their brethren, felt too surely that they were none of them any better really than those who had fallen victims to their impiety, and were fully sensible that sinners could not dwell in the presence of God. Carried away by this feeling of awe before the purity of the invisible King, they cried, “To whom shall He go up from us?”
These poor Hebrews felt the same fear as John was sensible of centuries later, when at the feet of the glorified Son of Man he fell as dead; but they, less blessed than John and the children of the kingdom, had no Redeemer there to raise them up with the loving whisper: “Fear not; I (whom thou dreadest) am He that liveth and was dead.” (Sec Revelation 1:17-18.)1 Samuel 6:20. Who is able to stand? &c. — That is, to minister before the ark, where the Lord is present. Since God is so severe to mark what is amiss in his servants, who is sufficient to serve him? They seem by this to have been made sensible of their rashness, and brought to acknowledge the holiness of God to be such that they were not worthy of his divine presence among them, and therefore they desired that the ark might be placed elsewhere. And to whom shall he go up from us? — Who will dare to receive the ark with so much hazard to themselves? Thus when the word of God works with terror on men’s consciences, instead of taking the blame to themselves, they frequently quarrel with the word, and endeavour to put it from them.Leviticus 10:1, Leviticus 10:9). God had just vindicated His own honor against the Philistines; it must now be seen that He would be sanctified in them that come near Him Leviticus 10:3. It is obvious to observe how the doctrine of atonement, and its necessity in the case of sinners, is taught in this and similar lessons as to the awesome HOLINESS of God.
he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men—Beth-shemesh being only a village, this translation must be erroneous, and should be, "he smote fifty out of a thousand," being only fourteen hundred in all who indulged this curiosity. God, instead of decimating, according to an ancient usage, slew only a twentieth part; that is, according to Josephus, seventy out of fourteen hundred (see Nu 4:18-22).To stand before this holy Lord God, i.e. to minister before the ark where the Lord is present. Since God is so severe to mark whatsoever is amiss in his servants, who is sufficient and worthy to serve him? who dare presume to come into his presence? It seems to be a complaint, or expostulation with God, concerning this last and great instance of his severity.
To whom shall he go up from us? who will dare to receive the ark with so much hazard to themselves?
and to whom shall he go up from us? that is, the ark, the symbol of God's presence, which they seem to be desirous of parting with; being unworthy of it, and conscious of their impurity in comparison of God that dwelt in it; and of their weakness to give the honour and reverence that was due unto it; and yet they knew not who were fit for it, or would choose to receive it, because of the danger they were liable to through every inadvertency in them, and irreverence of that.And the men of Bethshemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? and to whom shall he go up from us?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)20. Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?] Before Jehovah this holy God. Holiness is an especial attribute of Jehovah, demanding a corresponding holiness on the part of the people among whom He promised to dwell (Exodus 29:45-46; Leviticus 11:44-45). Chastisement was necessary to teach the men of Beth-shemesh that their sinfulness could not stand before the holiness of God (cp. Malachi 3:2; Luke 5:8): but instead of fitting themselves for His Presence, they desired to free themselves from the harden of it. Cp. Matthew 8:34.
We should compare the judgment upon Uzzah, after which David feared to bring the Ark into Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 6:7-9.)
to whom shall he go up from us?] They regard the Presence of Jehovah as inseparable from the Ark.Verses 20, 21. - Who is able, etc. Literally, "Who is able to stand before Jehovah, this holy God?" A punishment so severe following upon their unhallowed temerity made the inhabitants of this city of priests eager to pass the ark on to others. They therefore sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath-jearim to request them to fetch it away. Kiryath-yarim - for so it ought to be pronounced - means the city of forests - Woodtown, softened among us into Wooton. It was chosen apparently simply because it was the nearest town of any importance, and was therefore identified in early Christian times with the modern Kuriet-el-'anab, grapetown, the woods having given way to vines, and which is about ten miles off, on the road to Mizpah. Conder, however, doubts the correctness of this view, and places Kirjath-jearim at Soba (see 'Tent Work,' 1:18 22).
1 Samuel 6:14 the words from והעגלה to גּדולה אבן are circumstantial clauses introduced into the main clause, and that ויבקּעוּ is attached to לראות ויּשׂמחוּ, and carries on the principal clause.
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