Sorry, I know bible scriptures that mention God repenting, and other verses about God Never repenting has been brought up a number of times on this site in order to harmonize/reason how the said verses can be taken as a whole withOut contradicting each other:

Is there a contradiction between 1 Samuel 15:29 and 1 Samuel 15:35?

Numbers 23:19 Says God doesn't repent, Exodus 32:14 Says He repented?

Does God have regret or not in 1st Samuel 15?

However, I wanted to bring in the use of literary devices.

1 Samuel 15:29 says that God neither lies nor repents since He is not a man.

(1 Samuel 15:29) 29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent. KJV, ©1769

And yet, in 1 Samuel 15:35, it says that God indeed repented (for making Saul king over Israel).

(1 Samuel 15:35) 35 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. KJV, ©1769

(Numbers 23:19 (KJV))

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

(Exodus 32:14 (KJV))

And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.

Could we say that the contradiction between the aforementioned could be associated with literary devices of hyperbole, figure of speech? In other words, for God to repent or to regret something to do with his actions is so disturbing to God Himself that is why Samuel says in 1 Samuel 15:29 that God "will not lie nor repent" ?


1 Answer 1


The literary device that can reconcile these meanings is a simple matter of translation. The word נָחַם (nâcham) has more than one meaning, including to be sorry, to console oneself and to regret, as well as to "repent."

  • In 1 Samuel 15:11 God regrets he has made Saul king because Samuel has not lived up to God's expectations.

  • 1 Sam 15:29 the term is used in the normal English sense of "repent." (to express express sincere remorse about one's wrongdoing or sin). God declares he does not "repent" because he is not a man and does not sin.

  • Numbers 23 is essentially the same as the above: God is not a man. He does not sin and does not need to repent.

  • Exodus 32:14 is similar to God changing his mind about making Samuel king, except in this case God is moved not by disappointment but by compassion. Moses has understood God's true hope for Israel and appeals to his chesed (mercy or steadfast love). God responds as a loving parent, rather than a stern judge.

The idea that God would change his mind may be troubling to some Christians if they believe such a thing contradicts God's absolute sovereignty and predestination. However, in rabbinical thought and some Christian theology, God is so intimately related with human beings that we can move Him to both of joy and grief, with consequent shifts in the divine Mind. On such approach is the Process Theism/Theology:

Process theism typically refers to a family of theological ideas originating in, inspired by, or in agreement with the metaphysical orientation of the English philosopher-mathematician Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) and the American philosopher-ornithologist Charles Hartshorne (1897–2000). For both Whitehead and Hartshorne, it is an essential attribute of God to be fully involved in and affected by temporal processes... Process theism does not deny that God is in some respects eternal, immutable, and impassible, but it contradicts the classical view by insisting that God is in some respects temporal, mutable, and passible.

Thus, is we are willing to entertain the possibility that God is actually moved by us (either in a good sense or a bad one) the only problem with reconciling these uses of "repent" lies in a matter of definition. God does not repent as humans do, because he does not sin. But he does relate to us in a very intimate way, and can be moved accordingly.

  • Beautiful answer Commented Jun 27, 2023 at 8:07
  • And this move or change of God, does it affect his Eternal Decrees, or just our Responses in time. ? Commented Jun 27, 2023 at 8:08

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