DoesGod regret some of his actions? Does He ever make mistakes in Hisdecisions? In “God`s Own Repentance,” Margaret Nutting Ralphtalks about God, His actions, and His regrets after doing thoseactions. It`s a deeply thoughtful article that tries to explain thenature of God and whether He is repentant. It attempts to discuss ifGod ever turns away from his actions.
Thearticle acknowledges that God is loving and that He always acts outof love (Ralph 69). Consequently, there would be no reason for God tochange His mind or to repent. The common belief is that God`s minddoes not change. However, the scripture is reviewed in this article,and we find that it is not uncommon for God to repent or change hismind after doing an action. This paper will review the instances inthe scriptures that God seemed to change his ways. It will drawillustrations from the stories of Noah and the Floods, Saul the kingof Israel and the book of Psalms.
Noah`snarrative is one of the four stories about mankind`s sin in theinitial eleven chapters found in the book of Genesis. The fourstories in the book of Genesis that talk about man`s sin are Adam andEve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the floods, and the narrative about thetower of Babel (Ralph 71). In all these stories, man sins against Godby disobeying, killing and challenging God. God becomes so angry suchthat he becomes sorry He had made humankind. He regretted Hiscreation of man yet in the creation stories man was God`s mostspecial creation. This shows that God had changed His mind about manbecause sin had become too prevalent. The story of the Garden of Edenpictures God in an anthropomorphic way by giving God some humanqualities. God has a hard time figuring out who is the best companionfor man. He also does not realize that man has already committed sinuntil He searches for him in the garden and finds out that he ishiding. God talks and walks just like man (Ralph 71). Anotherinstance in the scriptures where God seemed to change his mind andbecome repentant is found in the book of 1 Samuel. The story is not amyth like the books of Genesis which are mysteries about the natureof sin and human suffering beyond our comprehension. Rather, thisbook is more historical in nature designed to teach a lesson. In thestory, Saul is anointed king of Israel, but later God changes Hismind and regrets bestowing the kingship upon Saul. God changes Hismind because Saul "Has not carried out my commands" (1 Sam15:11). Nathan confronts Saul who acknowledges his sin by stating, "Ihave sinned for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord andyour word because I feared the people and obeyed their voice."(1 Sam 15:24). God withdrew His favor upon Saul and bestowed it uponKing David (Ralph 71). Saul disobeyed God, and this resulted in himnot being king anymore. The moral of this narrative is that we shouldnot disobey God. The author, just like in the story of Noah and theflood, pictures God just like a human being who regrets makingcertain decisions. In this story, God regrets His first choice ofmaking Saul a king, and he changes His mind by now turning to Davidto make him king instead. The narrative gives an anthropomorphicdescription of God. Furthermore, in Psalms another reference is madeto God’s nature of changing His mind. In this book, however, Hedoes not change his mind, but the psalmist is pictured trying topersuade God to do so in Psalms 13. They are crying out to Him askinghim to change His mind about the way He is treating them.
Thebelief in God`s constant love and mercy can never be challengedhowever, this article brings into perspective another aspect of Godthat I had never considered. The fact that God can change His mind issomething that is new and peculiar for most of us. This is the reasonI chose this topic since it challenges my basic understanding of thescriptures and God. Margaret Nutting Ralph has enlightened me in thatI have realized the human and soft side of God and his nature ofchanging His decisions according to the outcome of his originalactions or decisions. The belief in His constant love, however,remains as strong as ever. Even when he does change His mind, He isdoing so out of love, not dislike for humankind.
Thehuman understanding and perception of God cannot be measured norunderstood. This is so because the fundamental nature of God isbeyond our comprehension. Although this article describes theinstances in the scriptures where God seemed to repent, regret orchange his mind, we can never understand why He did so. Given ourbelief in His omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent nature, it isbeyond our understanding why He made some decisions only to go backon them later. What is constant in our beliefs is that He is alwaysright, just, merciful and loving.
MargretNutting Ralph. God’sOwn Repentance. 2016