The Meaning of 1 Samuel 6:20 Explained

1 Samuel 6:20

KJV: 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?

YLT: And the men of Beth-Shemesh say, 'Who is able to stand before Jehovah, this holy God? and unto whom doth He go up from us?'

Darby: And the men of Beth-shemesh said, Who is able to stand before Jehovah, this holy God? and to whom shall he go up from us?

ASV: And the men of Beth-shemesh said, Who is able to stand before Jehovah, this holy God? and to whom shall he go up from us?

What does 1 Samuel 6:20 Mean?

Context Summary

1 Samuel 6:13-21 - Rashness Punished Reverence Blessed
The new cart, with its precious burden, must have come upon the men of Beth-shemesh like an apparition. The Ark was welcomed by them, after its seven months of absence, with great joy. But privilege entails responsibility; and their wanton curiosity and irreverence could not be permitted. Reverence for God Himself demanded the most careful behavior toward the Ark of His Presence, and when this was lacking, swift judgment ensued. See Numbers 1:50-51; Numbers 4:5; Numbers 4:16-30.
It is interesting to notice that when the Israelites were weaned from the Ark, their hearts lamented after the Lord, 1 Samuel 7:2. We cannot be permanently happy without God. Seasons of apathy and irreligion will sooner or later be succeeded by faith and love, as the frost of winter yields to the touch of spring. In this case, the revival was due to the patient labor of Samuel, and he did splendid service in urging the people to deal drastically with the idols of Canaan, which had cut them off from God as clouds hide the sun. [source]

Chapter Summary: 1 Samuel 6

1  After seven months the Philistines take counsel how to send back the ark
10  They bring it on a new cart with an offering unto Beth Shemesh
19  The people are smitten for looking into the ark
21  They send to them of Kiriath Jearim to fetch it

What do the individual words in 1 Samuel 6:20 mean?

And said the men of Beth Shemesh who is able to stand before Yahweh God holy this and to whom shall it go up from us -
וַיֹּֽאמְרוּ֙ אַנְשֵׁ֣י בֵֽית־ שֶׁ֔מֶשׁ מִ֚י יוּכַ֣ל לַעֲמֹ֔ד לִפְנֵ֨י יְהוָ֧ה ؟ הָאֱלֹהִ֛ים הַקָּד֖וֹשׁ הַזֶּ֑ה וְאֶל־ מִ֖י יַעֲלֶ֥ה מֵעָלֵֽינוּ ס

וַיֹּֽאמְרוּ֙  And  said 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine plural
Root: אָמַר 
Sense: to say, speak, utter.
אַנְשֵׁ֣י  the  men 
Parse: Noun, masculine plural construct
Root: אִישׁ 
Sense: man.
שֶׁ֔מֶשׁ  Beth  Shemesh 
Parse: Proper Noun, feminine singular
Root: בֵּית שֶׁמֶשׁ  
Sense: a town in southwest Judah.
יוּכַ֣ל  is  able 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: יָכֹל  
Sense: to prevail, overcome, endure, have power, be able.
לַעֲמֹ֔ד  to  stand 
Parse: Preposition-l, Verb, Qal, Infinitive construct
Root: עָמַד  
Sense: to stand, remain, endure, take one’s stand.
לִפְנֵ֨י  before 
Parse: Preposition-l, Noun, common plural construct
Root: לִפְנֵי 
Sense: face.
יְהוָ֧ה  Yahweh 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: יהוה 
Sense: the proper name of the one true God.
؟ הָאֱלֹהִ֛ים  God 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine plural
Root: אֱלֹהִים  
Sense: (plural).
הַקָּד֖וֹשׁ  holy 
Parse: Article, Adjective, masculine singular
Root: קָדֹושׁ  
Sense: sacred, holy, Holy One, saint, set apart.
הַזֶּ֑ה  this 
Parse: Article, Pronoun, masculine singular
Root: זֶה  
Sense: this, this one, here, which, this … that, the one … the other, another, such.
וְאֶל־  and  to 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Preposition
Root: אֶל  
Sense: to, toward, unto (of motion).
מִ֖י  whom 
Parse: Interrogative
Root: מִי  
Sense: who?, whose?, whom?, would that, whoever, whosoever.
יַעֲלֶ֥ה  shall  it  go  up 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: סָלַק 
Sense: to go up, ascend, climb.
מֵעָלֵֽינוּ  from  us 
Parse: Preposition-m, first person common plural
Root: עַל 
Sense: upon, on the ground of, according to, on account of, on behalf of, concerning, beside, in addition to, together with, beyond, above, over, by, on to, towards, to, against.
ס  - 
Parse: Punctuation