How can God regret?


#1

Hey guys, I’m having troubles comprehending a couple of Scriptures and was hoping for some clarification:

Genesis 6:6 The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.

1 sam 15:10 Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel:11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the LORD all that night.

God would have known that these events would have taken place so I question why God uses the word, “regret” to describe His feelings towards the situation. It’s almost as if He wishes He wouldn’t have done things the way He did. As if, if God could go back He would go back and change things.

This of course is not true, but that’s how I often read the word, “regret.” Thanks in advance!


#2

Well, you see, God gave us a free will to choose between good or bad. And how can God regret? He put His hope in people He created to do His will, when they fail to do so, God regret. Good question though, and a interesting one.


#3

God does not regret (nor anger). In many ways we attribute to God human qualities that do not truly exist in God. But by way of metaphor they are acceptably predicated of God because of the similarity of outcome. (See Aquinas, SCG).


#4

God does not regret nor anger, but is quite aware of the nature of these human qualities, especially through the humanity of Jesus. Yes, Jesus could be angry - ref. the traders in the temple grounds, and He could also have regret and fear - ref. His emotions and prayer at Gethsemane.


#5

[quote="dronald, post:1, topic:327565"]
Hey guys, I'm having troubles comprehending a couple of Scriptures and was hoping for some clarification:

Genesis 6:6 The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.

1 sam 15:10 Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel:11 "I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions." Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the LORD all that night.

God would have known that these events would have taken place so I question why God uses the word, "regret" to describe His feelings towards the situation. It's almost as if He wishes He wouldn't have done things the way He did. As if, if God could go back He would go back and change things.

This of course is not true, but that's how I often read the word, "regret." Thanks in advance!

[/quote]

The writer's of Sacred Scripture put human emotions on God in order to explain events. It is called anthropomorphism. It was a simple way of explaining events in their relationship to the Lord; a way they could understand on a human level.

Descriptions of emotions are applicable to man, and Jesus, 100% man and 100% Divine had human emotions.
Of course, in Jesus there is perfection and the perfect balance that comes from being in union with the Trinity.

It is hard to articulate the mysteries of God. He has attributes that flow from his infinite perfect love.
A fascinating book to read is Theology for Beginners by Frank J. Sheed.


#6

Yes that is a good question! He can't regret the way we do because He already knows everything that will ever happen and if He really regretted something He would see it before He did it and would simply not do it. He knew everything man would do and what Saul would do. I think that explains that God felt something concerning events that happened to man and with Saul and the best way to express it is by saying regret even though it's really not regret. Maybe He regrets things for us out of concern but not His own feelings of regret. Like how you can feel embarrassed** for** someone, if they trip and fall for example and you feel embarrassed for them. He felt sorry for mankind and felt sorry for Saul in a kind of regret type of way. :shrug: I can't wrap my head around God not having emotions, I like to believe He does feel things, especially concerning humans. Maybe it's because when I think of someone or something not having emotions I think of a robot or something, I don't know. :shrug: It's just easier for me to think God has feelings.


#7

In my humble opinion, I agree with some of what’s been said on this thread. God does feel but the complexities of his emotions are By Far Deeper and have infinite levels to them. They are right about us projecting our understanding of emotional states onto God. It’s not really that he regrets, so much as he is disappointed in the fact that we didn’t rise up and chose a better path. Because we have free will, there are always a cross roads of decisions and possible outcomes for us to chose from. Yes, he knows the outcomes of every decision we make, but he laments when we choose poorly. And I believe it was up to the writer of the bible to try to do his/her best when choosing the words to describe the unimaginable depths of the range of God’s emotions. If they were to try to explain just one emotion to a tee, it would take a book. In my opinion.


#8

[quote="WhiteLillyMary, post:7, topic:327565"]
In my humble opinion, I agree with some of what's been said on this thread. God does feel but the complexities of his emotions are By Far Deeper and have infinite levels to them. They are right about us projecting our understanding of emotional states onto God. It's not really that he regrets, so much as he is disappointed in the fact that we didn't rise up and chose a better path. Because we have free will, there are always a cross roads of decisions and possible outcomes for us to chose from. Yes, he knows the outcomes of every decision we make, but he laments when we choose poorly. And I believe it was up to the writer of the bible to try to do his/her best when choosing the words to describe the unimaginable depths of the range of God's emotions. If they were to try to explain just one emotion to a tee, it would take a book. In my opinion.

[/quote]

Good post! Well said. :thumbsup:


#9

For close reading, I would recommend a concordance. :slight_smile:

Keep in mind that the text is in translation. Biblical Hebrew has much smaller vocuabulary than English. This produces two results.

One, as mentioned previously, is the use of human concepts to describe the abstract. Genesis 6:6: says that man’s wickedness “grieved Him at His heart,” but God doesn’t have, or need a heart.

The second result is that words often have layered, highly nuanced meanings. Where you read “regret” (nacham) in Genesis 6:6 and 1 Samuel 15:10 can be translated in several ways, and definitions can vary even when the essential meaning is the same:

Properly to sigh, that is, breathe strongly; by implication to be sorry, that is, (in a favorable sense) to pity, console or (reflexively) rue; or (unfavorably) to avenge (oneself):—comfort (self), ease [one’s self], repent (-er, -ing, self).

(lexiconcordance.com/hebrew/5162.html)

There might be room to interpret these verses as describing God’s “pity” instead of his “regret.”


#10

[quote="Skye_Ariel, post:8, topic:327565"]
Good post! Well said. :thumbsup:

[/quote]

Thanks! Glad to be of some kinda help. Sometimes the light shows through, and sometimes, I'm just human. With all of the faults and frailties, and strengths that go with it!;)


#11

That shows a side of God. Though having all the power and knowledge in the world, still God did something which displeased God.


#12

“G-d transcends all definitions, including the definition, ‘existence’”
– Maimonides


#13

[quote="dronald, post:1, topic:327565"]

Hey guys, I'm having troubles comprehending a couple of Scriptures and was hoping for some clarification:

Genesis 6:6 The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 1 sam 15:10 Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel:11 "I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions." Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the LORD all that night.

God would have known that these events would have taken place so I question why God uses the word, "regret" to describe His feelings towards the situation. It's almost as if He wishes He wouldn't have done things the way He did. As if, if God could go back He would go back and change things. This of course is not true, but that's how I often read the word, "regret." Thanks in advance!

[/quote]

Keep in mind that the text is in translation. For close reading, I would recommend a concordance. :)

Biblical Hebrew has much smaller vocuabulary than English. This produces two results.

One, as mentioned previously, is the use of human concepts to describe the abstract. Genesis 6:6: says that man's wickedness "grieved Him at His heart," but God doesn't have, or need a heart.

The second result is that words often have layered, highly nuanced meanings. Where you read "regret" (nacham) in Genesis 6:6 and 1 Samuel 15:10 can be translated in several ways, and definitions can vary even when the essential meaning is the same:

Properly to sigh, that is, breathe strongly; by implication to be sorry, that is, (in a favorable sense) to pity, console or (reflexively) rue; or (unfavorably) to avenge (oneself):—comfort (self), ease [one's self], repent (-er, -ing, self).

(lexiconcordance.com/hebrew/5162.html)

There might be room to interpret these verses as describing God's "pity" instead of his "regret."


#14

I think key to understanding this concept is verse 2 of chapter 6, "the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man..."

God didn't regret in the sense of feeling that He did something which He shouldn't have in the first place. It was regret in the sense of coming to a point where it was time to effect a change.

The word 'regret' is an unfortunate translation of the original. The word really means that something weighed heavily on the Lord. It was a burden that He was determined to deal with. This is why many translation say, 'the Lord repented.' Not repenting in the sense of repenting of sin, but repenting generally so as to effect a radical change in a given situation.


#15

This word “regret” is an anthropomorphism – giving God an attribute of human beings. It’s done for expositional purposes, to tell a story. While it suggest that God changes, we believe that he doesn’t.

Ultimately, God is a mystery which we may never understand, to begin with. As scripture says,
“God’s ways are not our ways.” Get used to it - friendly advice.


#16

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