A Few Thoughts about God’s Repentance

1 Samuel 15:35 KJV And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.
Does God repent?
The word repent
B1 The Hebrew word translated mourn is אָבַל ʼâbal. It means to be languid, to walk with the head cast down (Source is Gesenius’s Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon). It has the idea of mourning, wailing in sorrow, and lamenting. It was not a happy day for Samuel. This isn’t a one-time short emotion; it is much longer period of grieving. See 1 Samuel 16:1 and note below.
B2 The Hebrew word translated repent is נָחַם nâcham. It means to breathe deeply, thus any strong emotion bringing this physical response, so pity, comfort, grieve, be sorry for, repent. When used about humans it signifies repent as in turning from sinning to not sinning and from sin to God. When used about God it signifies repent as in turning from happiness and joy to sorrow. God wants to communicate His feelings so humans can understand Him better.
C1 Genesis 5:29 NIV He named him Noah and said, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the LORD has cursed. See also Genesis 37:35
C2 God does not change His mind on His unconditional promises, His worldview, His lifestyle, or laws. Numbers 23:19 NIV God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
C3 Psalm 90:13 KJV Return, O Lord, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. The word repent in this passage refers to pity or have compassion (still the idea of breathing deeply). See other translations here.
I understand 1 Samuel 15:35 as follows. You study it for yourself.
B1 Israel wanted a king (as the nations around them had). Thus, rejecting God as their king. 1 Samuel 8:5 NRSV and said to him, “You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations. It would be helpful if you read the context (1 Samuel 8:3-9).
B2 Granting them a king is punishment on one hand, yet a fulfillment of prophesies about the coming Messiah. A king was allowed.
B3 A king was chosen from the nation of Israel. God choose Saul son of Kish. This shows
C1 God is still sovereign over Israel and does the choosing, not the people.
C2 God choose Saul.
C3 God’s promises to Saul were conditional. 1 Samuel 12:14-15 NLT “Now if you fear and worship the LORD and listen to his voice, and if you do not rebel against the LORD’s commands, then both you and your king will show that you recognize the LORD as your God. 15 But if you rebel against the LORD’s commands and refuse to listen to him, then his hand will be as heavy upon you as it was upon your ancestors.
B4 God knew Saul’s future choices and actions. God knew that eventually Saul would disobey, and Saul would be unchosen. God was not surprised about Saul’s disobedience and disbelief.
B5 God’s repentance would be understood as God having emotions of being sad that His chosen would rebel and sin. God is not sad that He choose Saul. Saul had a choice to believe and obey or not believe and disobey. Choices have consequences. Saul had made feigned repentance several times, but God is not deceived by such action.
B6 1 Samuel 29 and verse 35 are not contradictory.
C1 Believer’s Bible Commentary notes:
Verses 29 and 35 seem to be contradictory. The first says that God does not change His mind or relent, while the second says that He regretted making Saul king. Verse 29 describes God in His essential character. He is unchanging and unchangeable, the immutable One. Verse 35 means that a change in Saul’s conduct required a corresponding change in God’s plans and purposes for him. To be consistent with His attributes, God must bless obedience and punish disobedience.
C2 College Press commentary notes:
We understand that it repented God that He had made Saul king when we look upon the act as man would look upon it. This is what we call an anthropomorphism—putting things in the form that man can understand. Most certainly we do not look upon the occurrence as a mistake on God’s part. God was grieved on account of Saul’s failure. Inasmuch as grief is a part of our repentance, God’s attitude resembles this part of repentance.
B7 Note 1 Samuel 16:1 LEB Then Yahweh said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn about Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel! Fill up your horn with oil and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have chosen a king for myself among his sons. There is a difference between the mourning (אָבַל ʼâbal) of Samuel and God’s change of mind (נָחַם nâcham). Samuel still mourns, but of God, there is no mention of mourning.
B8 Note Jesus’s attitude of grief. Matthew 23:37 EMTV O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Compare Matthew 26:37.
B9 The Holy Spirit grieves. Ephesians 4:30 EMTV And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
C1 Grieve here has the idea of distress, sorrowful, and vex. (Mounce)
C2 The fact that He can be grieved shows that the Holy Spirit is a Person, not a mere influence. It also means He loves us, because only a person who loves can be grieved. The favorite ministry of God’s Spirit is to glorify Christ and to change the believer into His likeness (2Co_3:18). When a Christian sins, He has to turn from this ministry to one of restoration. It grieves Him to see the believer’s spiritual progress interrupted by sin. He must then lead the Christian to the place of repentance and confession of sin. (Believer’s Bible Commentary)
C3 See Spurgeon’s devotion.
Jonah 3:10
B1 Translations
C1 Jonah 3:10 KJV And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
C2 Jonah 3:10 NRSV When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
B2 God said He would destroy Nineveh but had an unstated condition that if they would repent (they did), He would not destroy the city. Jonah 3:4-5 NRSV Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.
God grieves when we disbelieve, disobey, and bear the fruit of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). God is pleased when we believe, obey, and bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
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A Few Thoughts about God’s Repentance
Posted by Choco at 04:48 31 December 2020
Labels: God’s repentance, Repentance

 

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