1 Samuel 16:4

4 Samuel did what the LORD said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?”

Read 1 Samuel 16:4 Using Other Translations

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?
Samuel did what the LORD commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, "Do you come peaceably?"
So Samuel did as the LORD instructed. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town came trembling to meet him. “What’s wrong?” they asked. “Do you come in peace?”

What does 1 Samuel 16:4 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
1 Samuel 16:4

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 Bunting F25, 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 other F26;

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.


F25 Travels of the Patriarchs p. 125.
F26 Vid. Hieron. de loc. Heb. fol. 89. F. & 94. B.
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