The Lord Regretted?


Hi, I was reading 2 Sm 24:2, 9-17 and somewhere along the passage came the line “the LORD regretted the calamity.” What does that mean? does that mean that God makes mistakes too? that God can act out of impulse, without right thinking, just like human beings?


It’s the author anthropomorphizing God and giving him human attributes. God cannot regret or make mistakes as we do. He knows all before it happens. He cannot be surprised. Psalm 139 was recited at vespers today, and it immediately came to mind when I saw your question.

*For it was you who created my being, *
knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I thank you for the wonder of my being, *
for the wonders of all your creation.

Already you knew my soul, *
my body held no secret from you
when I was being fashioned in secret *
and molded in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw all my actions, *
they were all of them written in your book;
every one of my days was decreed *
before one of them came into being.*


What about that verse where Jesus says he regrets creating mankind? That is not coming from an author, but straight from Jesus.


Do you recall the book/chapter/verse? I tried searching for it, but could not find it.


I just hunted through a dozen English translations, using “regret”, “regretteth”, “wish I had not”, “wish I had”, etc. and found nothing from Jesus saying anything close to that.


There is no such passage; Jesus said no such thing. It is the LORD who says this, and this is in the Old Testament, specifically, in Genesis 6:6-7.


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

Yes, this is the one…how else can that be interpreted? Seems cut and dry to me.



The Vulgate translation is “repented,” which is an even stronger term.

“God, who is unchangeable, is not capable of repentance, grief, or any other passion. But these expressions are used to declare the enormity of the sins of men, which was so provoking as to determine their Creator to destroy these his creatures, whom before he had so much favoured. (Challoner) — God acted outwardly as a man would do who repented.”

  • Fr. Haydock

God is also a ‘jealous God’ (Ex. 34:14) i.e. He desires an undivided heart. ‘You shall seek me, and shall find me: when you shall seek me with all your heart.’ (Jer. 29:13)

If we forget that God is infinite spirit, we can make no sense of Scripture.


Cut and dry only if one holds on to a heretical view of God.

God, who is immutable, cannot have emotions such as regret or his heart being troubled. This is called an anthropomorphism, a literary device expressing God in human terms, according to limited human understanding. Because human expression, including letters, are by definition, limited, they cannot adequately express the full truth about God. Man can only express what he experiences of God through man’s own human experience.


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