Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Samuel 16:4

So Samuel did what the Lord said, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, "Do you come in peace?"
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Church and State;   Government;   Jesse;   King;   Minister, Christian;   Reverence;   Thompson Chain Reference - Bible Stories for Children;   Children;   Home;   Pleasant Sunday Afternoons;   Religion;   Stories for Children;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Courts of Justice;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - David;   Jesse;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Samuel;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Covenant;   Elect, Election;   Leadership;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Prayer;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Bethlehem;   David;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Pentateuch;   Samuel;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Bethlehem;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Bethlehem;   David;   Priests and Levites;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Elder (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Bethlehem ;   Jesse ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Elder;   Jesse;   Kingdom of christ of heaven;   Kingdom of god;   Kingdom of heaven;   Saul;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Jes'se;   Tel'a-Im;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Altar;   Anoint;   Government of the Hebrews;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Bethlehem;   Elder in the Old Testament;   Jesse;   Samuel;   Samuel, Books of;   Shammah;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The elders of the town trembled at his coming - They knew he was a prophet of the Lord, and they were afraid that he was now come to denounce some judgments of the Most High against their city.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-samuel-16.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Trembled - There was evidently something unusual in Samuel‘s coming to Bethlehem; and the elders, knowing that Samuel was no longer at friendship with Saul, foreboded some evil.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:4". "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 did that which the Lord spake,.... He filled a horn of oil, and took an heifer with him:

and came to Bethlehem; where Jesse and his family lived, which, according to BuntingF25Travels of the Patriarchs, &c. p. 125. , was sixteen miles from Ramah; though it could hardly be so much, since Ramah was six miles from Jerusalem on one side, as Bethlehem lay six miles from it on the otherF26Vid. Hieron. de loc. Heb. fol. 89. F. & 94. B. :

and the elders of the town trembled at his coming; for he being now an old man, and seldom went abroad, they concluded it must be something very extraordinary that brought him thither; and they might fear that as he was a prophet of the Lord, that he was come to reprove them, or denounce some judgment upon them for their sins. The Targum is,"the elders of the city gathered together to meet him;'out of respect and in honour to him, and to the same sense Jarchi's note is,"they hasted to go out to meet him';see Hosea 11:11.

and, said comest thou peaceably? the word "said" is singular; one of the elders put this question, the chiefest of them, perhaps Jesse; and the meaning of it is, whether he came with ill news and bad tidings, or as displeased with them himself on some account or another; or with a message from God, as displeased with them; or whether he came there for his own peace and safety, to be sheltered from Saul; and which, if that was the case, might not be for their peace and good; but would draw upon them the wrath and vengeance of Saul; for they doubtless knew that there was a variance, at least a shyness, between Saul and Samuel.

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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 16:4". "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 did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town c trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably?

(c) Afraid, lest some grievous crime had been committed, because the prophet was not wont to come there.
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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:4". "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

the elders of the town trembled at his coming — Beth-lehem was an obscure town, and not within the usual circuit of the judge. The elders were naturally apprehensive, therefore, that his arrival was occasioned by some extraordinary reason, and that it might entail evil upon their town, in consequence of the estrangement between Samuel and the king.

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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 16:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/1-samuel-16.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably?

Trembled — Because it was strange and unexpected to them, this being but an obscure town, and remote from Samuel, and therefore they justly thought there was some extraordinary reason for it.

Peaceable — The Hebrew phrase, comest thou in peace, is as much as to say (in our phrase) is all well?

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-samuel-16.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Samuel 16:4 And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably?

Ver. 4. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming.] Not because they feared him, but themselves, lest guilty of some great sin, or in danger of some grievous judgment, which he came to denounce. They well knew that Samuel was no gadder abroad, and that such a guest came not to them for familiarity. Coming also so unexpectedly and so privately, they might well fear he had fled from Saul, and that evil would befall them for his sake, as it afterwards did to Nob for David’s sake.

Comest thou peaceably?] It is a good thing to stand in awe of God’s messengers, and to hold good terms with them upon all occasions. Zedekiah is blamed for not humbling himself before Jeremiah the prophet, speaking from the mouth of the Lord. [2 Chronicles 36:12]

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-samuel-16.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The elders of the town trembled at his coming; partly because it was strange and unexpected to them, this being but an obscure town, Micah 5:2, and remote from Samuel, and therefore they justly thought there was some extraordinary reason for it; and their guilty consciences made them fear that he came to denounce some dreadful and particular judgment of God upon them; and partly lest Saul, whose heart was estranged from and incensed against Samuel, should upon this occasion conceive a jealousy of them, and a displeasure against them.

Peaceably, Heb. in or with peace; either, first, To thyself. Comest thou voluntarily, or to flee from the rage of Saul? Or, secondly, To us. Comest thou with no evil tidings to us, either from God or from Saul? The Hebrew phrase, Comest thou in peace? being as much as to say, (in our phrase,) Is all well?

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:4". 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

4.The elders of the town trembled at his coming — For what reason we are not told; but probably from suspicion or fear that his coming was for the purpose of punishing some sin among them, or of denouncing some bitter judgment.

Comest thou peaceably — Without any hostile intention? Compare parallel passages.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-samuel-16.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Wondered. Hebrew, "trembled," being full of consternation, (Haydock) as the prophet did not now stir much from home; and fearing lest he had some bad news to impart, or had incurred the king's displeasure, (Calmet) unless he came to punish some of the people at Bethlehem. (Menochius)

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-samuel-16.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Beth-lehem = house of bread.

said. Hebrew text reads verb in singular, requiring "he, or one, said". In this case it is the Figure of speech Heterosis (of Number), App-6. But several codices, the Sevir (App-34), Targum, Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate, and the two earliest printed editions, read "they said".

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:4". "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 did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably?

The elders of the town trembled at his coming. Beth-lehem was an obscure town, and not within the usual circuit of the judge. The elders were naturally apprehensive, therefore, that his arrival was occasioned by some extraordinary reason, and that it might entail evil upon their town, in consequence of the estrangement between Samuel and the king. 'They might have been conscious of secret guilt, and supposed that Samuel, coming among them as the judicial vicegerent of God, was about to investigate and punish the commission of some crime. The inhabitants of this place have long been proverbial for their refractory spirit; because even in modern times they have been often at variance with the reigning power' (Hardy's 'Notices of the Holy Land,'

p. 174).

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:4". "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

(4) Trembled at his coming.—The appearance of the aged seer, with the heifer and the long horn of holy oil, at first terrified the villagers of the quiet, secluded Bethlehem. The name and appearance of the old seer was well known in all the coasts of Israel. Why had he come thus suddenly among them? Had their still remote township then been the scene of some unknown and grave crime? What was happening in Israel, which brought Samuel the seer to little Bethlehem?

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-samuel-16.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably?
trembled
21:1; 2 Samuel 6:9; 1 Kings 17:18; Hosea 6:5; 11:10; Luke 5:8; 8:37
coming
Heb. meeting. Comest.
1 Kings 2:13; 2 Kings 9:22; 1 Chronicles 12:17,18
Reciprocal: 1 Samuel 18:12 - afraid;  2 Kings 9:17 - Is it peace;  Matthew 8:34 - they besought;  Matthew 21:10 - all;  Mark 5:15 - and they;  Luke 2:4 - unto;  Luke 8:47 - she came;  John 7:42 - where;  Acts 5:13 - of;  1 Thessalonians 5:19 - the Spirit

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-samuel-16.html.