December 1 Morning Verse of The Day

6:20 The people of Beth-shemesh realized their own unholiness in the presence of the Lord this holy God. The Philistines had sent the ark away; the citizens of Beth-shemesh now determined to do the same.[1]

6:20 to whom shall it go up from us? The people of Beth-shemesh wish to be rid of the ark, just like the Philistines.[2]

6:20 The people of Beth-shemesh sound like the people of Ashdod (5:7–8).[3]

6:20 Who is able to stand before … God? This question climaxes the narrative of the ark. No one is able to stand against God’s judgment. This applied to the people outside the covenant as well as those under the covenant. Presumption before God is unacceptable. to whom shall He go. The expression was used to denote the desire to take the ark away from them.[4]

6:20 Who is able to stand: Since God is holy, He requires those who minister or serve Him to be separated from all that is contrary to His holy character. The people responded in terror and frustration. They knew of the troubles that the ark had brought to the Philistines; now, they believed, they were next.[5]

20. If this question of the men of Bethshemesh be the humble enquiry of souls under divine visitation, the question is gracious indeed: and in a gospel sense it may be thus answered. None but souls who approach this Holy Lord God in the holiness and sin-cleansing blood of the Mediator. But in him and his all-sufficient righteousness, the poorest sinner hath boldness to enter within the vail by his blood. See Heb. 10:19–22. But if the question was the language of displeasure, perhaps it was like that of David upon a similar occasion, in the instance of Uzzah. 2 Sam. 6:6–9.[6]

6:20 Who can stand in the presence of. The Hebrew expression can mean “attend to” (Judg. 20:27–28), but it can also carry the nuance “withstand, resist” (Exod. 9:11; Judg. 2:14; 2 Kings 10:4). The latter nuance fits nicely here as an affirmation of God’s invincible and potentially destructive power.

this holy God. In its primary sense “holy” refers to someone or something that is distinct from what is commonplace or ordinary. Here the nuance may be “off limits, unapproachable,” since touching and peering into the ark causes the death of the people.[7]

20 The phrase stand before (or “wait upon”) is often used specifically of priests attending in a sanctuary or “before the ark” as in Judg. 20:28. Compare Samuel’s ministering before the Lord (mešārēt) in 1 Sam. 2:11, 18; 3:1. But it can also mean “withstand,” as in Exod. 9:11, where the Egyptian magicians were not able to stand before Moses. “In this case the men of Beth-shemesh would be acknowledging the overwhelming power of Yahweh, rather than overlooking the obvious expedient of hiring a priest.”

On the “holiness” of God, see on 2:2. While the people of Beth-shemesh used the same attribute (holy) of Yahweh as Hannah, the implication is different in the two cases. While on the one hand Hannah acknowledged Yahweh as the intimate and yet sovereign Lord of Hosts, these people somehow lacked the proper attitude toward God, not honoring and reverencing the holy One. The addition of this makes their relationship with God sound more superficial and exhibits a popular conception of qādôš “holiness,” that is, “taboo.” As it was one of the darkest eras of the history of ancient Israel, it is no surprise to find that the spiritual condition of the covenant people was at such low ebb. In light of this, Hannah’s “prayer” sticks out. Now the time is ripe for Samuel’s new ministry. God has not forgotten his people even in the darkest time.[8]


[1] Beyer, B. E. (2017). 1 Samuel. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 419). Holman Bible Publishers.

[2] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., Whitehead, M. M., Grigoni, M. R., & Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (1 Sa 6:20). Lexham Press.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 502). Crossway Bibles.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (1 Sa 6:20). Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 355). T. Nelson Publishers.

[6] Hawker, R. (2013). Poor Man’s Old Testament Commentary: Deuteronomy–2 Samuel (Vol. 2, p. 491). Logos Bible Software.

[7] Chisholm, R. B., Jr. (2013). 1 & 2 Samuel (M. L. Strauss, J. H. Walton, & R. de Rosset, Eds.; p. 41). Baker Books.

[8] Tsumura, D. (2007). The First Book of Samuel (pp. 227–228). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

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