Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Samuel 16:2

But Samuel said, "How can I go? When Saul hears of it, he will kill me." And the Lord said, "Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord .'
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Church and State;   Cowardice;   Doubting;   Jesse;   King;   Minister, Christian;   Thompson Chain Reference - Bible Stories for Children;   Children;   Home;   Pleasant Sunday Afternoons;   Religion;   Stories for Children;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - David;   Jesse;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Samuel;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Covenant;   Elect, Election;   Kill, Killing;   Lie, Lying;   Philippians, Theology of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Prayer;   Easton Bible Dictionary - David;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Pentateuch;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Bethlehem;   Heifer;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Bethlehem;   David;   Eucharist;   Heifer;   Prayer;   Priests and Levites;   Sacrifice and Offering;   Samuel, Books of;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Jesse ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Kingdom of christ of heaven;   Kingdom of god;   Kingdom of heaven;   Saul;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Altar;   Anoint;   Government of the Hebrews;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Heifer;   Jesse;   Samuel;   Samuel, Books of;   Shammah;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Take a heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice - This was strictly true; Samuel did offer a sacrifice; and it does not appear that he could have done the work which God designed, unless he had offered this sacrifice, and called the elders of the people together, and thus collected Jesse's sons. But he did not tell the principal design of his coming; had he done so, it would have produced evil and no good: and though no man, in any circumstances, should ever tell a lie, yet in all circumstances he is not obliged to tell the whole truth, though in every circumstance he must tell nothing but the truth, and in every case so tell the truth that the hearer shall not believe a lie by it.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-samuel-16.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

It was the purpose of God that David should be anointed at this time as Saul‘s successor, and as the ancestor and the type of His Christ. It was not the purpose of God that Samuel should stir up a civil war, by setting up David as Saul‘s rival. Secrecy, therefore, was a necessary part of the transaction. But secrecy and concealment are not the same as duplicity and falsehood. Concealment of a good purpose, for a good purpose, is clearly justifiable. There is therefore nothing in the least inconsistent with truth in the occurrence here related. Compare Exodus 7:16; Exodus 8:1; Exodus 9:13.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-samuel-16.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Samuel said, how can I go?.... Which argues weakness of faith in Samuel, and fear of man, and a diffidence in and distrust of divine power; for otherwise he that sent him on such an errand could protect him:

if Saul hear it, he will kill me; should hear that Samuel went and anointed another king, it would so enrage him, that he would either immediately lay hands on him, and put him to death, or order him to be put to death; and indeed were it not that this was done by the command of God, he would deserve to die; it being an overt act of treason to anoint another king:

and the Lord said, take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the Lord; a peace offering, which might be done any where in those unsettled times, the ark being at one place, and the tabernacle at another; and might be offered upon a private altar, and by a private person; and as it seems Samuel used to sacrifice at different places; see 1 Samuel 7:9. Ben Gersom relates it as the sense of one of their Rabbins in his age, that there was a person slain in those parts, not known by whom he was slain; and so Samuel is ordered to take an heifer to fulfil the law in Deuteronomy 21:1 and therefore Saul would make no inquiry into his reason of going thither with an heifer, and this is commended both by him and Abarbinel.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-samuel-16.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear [it], he will kill me. And the LORD said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come b to sacrifice to the LORD.

(b) That is, to make a peace offering, which may be done even though the ark was not there.
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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:2". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/1-samuel-16.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

How can I go? — This is another instance of human infirmity in Samuel. Since God had sent him on this mission, He would protect him in the execution.

I am come to sacrifice — It seems to have been customary with Samuel to do this in the different circuits to which he went, that he might encourage the worship of God.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/1-samuel-16.html. 1871-8.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Samuel 16:2 And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear [it], he will kill me. And the LORD said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the LORD.

Ver. 2. And Samuel said, How can I go?] This he might ask, not so much out of diffidence - for he was old and experienced; and if Solon could say, I fear not to oppose Pisistratus the tyrant, because I am old and must shortly die howsoever, much better might Samuel - as out of a desire to be directed, as Luke 1:34.

And say, I am come to sacrifice.] This a prophet might do at any time, and in any place. "In everything give thanks." But when a king was to be anointed, there was a kind of necessity in this service. Neither was Samuel bound to tell all that he came about. Some part of a truth may lawfully be concealed out of civil prudence. See the like done, Jeremiah 38:27.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-samuel-16.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Samuel 16:2. And Samuel said, How can I go, &c.— Though the principal design of Samuel's journey to Bethlehem was, to anoint the son of Jesse; yet was there no falsehood in saying, according to the instruction given him by the Lord, that he came to sacrifice. God, who is truth itself, can never enjoin a lie. As to Samuel's pretending a sacrifice, says Dr. Waterland, it was a just pretence, and a true one: for he did offer sacrifice, as God had commanded him (1 Samuel 16:5.). And what if he had a farther intention? was he bound to declare all he knew, or to disclose to every man the whole of his errand? Secresy is of great use in all important business; and the concealing one design by going upon another, to prevent giving offence, or other worse mischief, is as righteous and as laudable a practice, as the drawing a curtain to keep off spies. The making one good design the cover for a better is doing two good things at once, and both in a proper way; and though men have been blamed, and very justly, for using acts of religion as a cloak for iniquity, yet I have never heard, that there could be any thing amiss in performing one act of obedience towards God, in order to facilitate the performance of another, see Scrip. Vind. p. 95.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:2". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/1-samuel-16.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

How can I go, to wit, safely? a question which seems to savour of human frailty; for he should have strongly believed that God, who had set him upon the work, would carry him through it.

I am come to sacrifice to the Lord; which he used oft to do, sometimes in one place, and sometimes in another, that so he might encourage and keep up the worship of God in all of them. This was one cause, though not the only cause, of his coming; nor was he obliged to declare all the causes of it.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:2". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-samuel-16.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2.If Saul hear it, he will kill me — The prophet seems to have known that Saul was now given over to the power of an evil spirit, (1 Samuel 16:14,) and, urged on by Satanic impulse, he might be as quick to imbrue his hands in the blood of his spiritual father as he was at a later period to slay the priests of Nob. 1 Samuel 22:18.

Take a heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice — Samuel was under no obligation to publish the whole object of his mission to Beth-lehem, and therefore, by the counsel of the Lord himself, he prudently conceals his chief design. In this there was no falsehood, no deception.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-samuel-16.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

1 Samuel 16:2. How can I go? — That is, with safety. Say, I am come to sacrifice to the Lord — Which he, being a prophet, might do anywhere, all the ritual laws being subject to the prophets. What the Lord commanded him to say was a truth, though not the whole truth.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:2". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-samuel-16.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Of the herd. Hebrew, "a heifer in thy hand." (Haydock) --- Females might be employed as peace-offerings, Leviticus iii. 1. --- Lord. This was one, though not the principal reason. No one doubted but that he might lawfully offer sacrifice, at a distance from the tabernacle, as he was guided by God. The Jews allow that prophets have this privilege, and may dispense with the ceremonial law, (Grotius) when they act by God's authority, as we ought to believe they do, as long as there is no proof to the contrary. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:2". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-samuel-16.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

with thee = in thine hand.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:2". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-samuel-16.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the LORD said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the LORD.

How can I go? This is another instance of human infirmity in Samuel. Since God had sent him on this mission, He would protect him in the execution.

I am come to sacrifice. This was true, though not the whole truth, which he was not bound or called upon to tell. It seems to have been customary with Samuel to do this (cf. 1 Samuel 9:12), in the different circuits to which he went, that he might encourage the worship of God. It has been formerly shown that although the appointed place for presentation of offerings was the front court of the national sanctuary (see the note at Leviticus 17:1-9; Deuteronomy 12:5-7), in not a few instances sacrifices were offered elsewhere, even by prophets (1 Samuel 7:17; 1 Samuel 9:12; Judges 2:5; 1 Kings 18:19; 1 Kings 18:32).

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-samuel-16.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(2) He will kill me.—The unhappy mental malady of Saul must have made rapid progress. The jealous king was indeed changed from the Saul who even, in his self-willed rebellion against the Lord, was careful to pay honour to Samuel. But now the aged prophet felt that if he crossed the king’s path in any way, even in carrying out the commands of the invisible King of Israel, his life would be forfeited to the fierce anger of Saul.

Take an heifer with thee.—And the Divine voice instructed Samuel how he should proceed. There was to be as yet no public anointing of the successor to Saul, only the future king must be sought out, and quietly, but solemnly, set apart for service before the Lord, and then watched over and carefully trained for his high office.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:2". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-samuel-16.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the LORD said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the LORD.
How can I go
Exodus 3:11; 1 Kings 18:9-14; Matthew 10:16; Luke 1:34
Take an heifer
For the prudent management of the affair, and to avoid suspicion, Samuel was directed to go to Bethlehem to sacrifice, as he probably did from time to time in many different places; and the answer which he was instructed to return was strictly true though he did not tell the principal design of his coming; for though no man in any circumstances should tell a lie, yet, in all circumstances, he is not bound to tell the whole truth, though he must tell nothing but the truth, and so tell that truth that the hearer shall not believe a lie by it.
with thee
Heb. in thine hand.
9:12
I am come
9:12; 20:29; Jeremiah 38:26,27
Reciprocal: Genesis 34:30 - and I shall;  Leviticus 17:8 - that offereth;  1 Samuel 7:9 - a sucking;  1 Samuel 20:6 - sacrifice;  2 Samuel 15:7 - pay;  2 Samuel 15:8 - thy servant;  2 Kings 9:3 - and flee;  Matthew 2:22 - he was;  Acts 9:13 - Lord

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:2". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-samuel-16.html.