And Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.” — 1 Samuel 15:28-29
Scripture teaches us that God is not like us, and all of His promises are “Yes” and “Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Samuel affirms this by stating, “he [the LORD] is not a man, that he should have regret” (1 Samuel 15:28-29). It is, therefore, difficult for us to reconcile passages like 1 Samuel 15:11 where the LORD regrets or repents (KJV). How can this be? Can God repent? My theology professor once said, “God is infinite and we are not. Therefore, we do not have the capacity to fully understand God.” Therefore, God uses words, such as regret and repent, that makes sense to us finite beings. Concerning these verses, John Piper writes, “For God to say, 'I feel sorrow that I made Saul king,’ is not the same as saying, 'I would not make him king if I had it to do over.’ God is able to feel sorrow for an act in view of foreknown evil and pain, and yet go ahead and will to do it for wise reasons. And so later, when he looks back on the act, he can feel the sorrow for the act that was leading to the sad conditions, such as Saul's disobedience” (Piper, 1998). So, what should our response be? I believe that God wants us to wrestle with Scripture (and with Him) to develop our faith. He wants us to have confidence in Him and trust in all of His promises. Let us remember, “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?” (Numbers 23:19, NIV). R.C. Sproul said that theology should lead to doxology. As we learn more about God and wrestle with passages like these, our ultimate response will be worship. Let us worship our holy, majestic, and all knowing God.