1 Samuel 15:29, Does God Change His Mind?

“And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent.”

//A recent comment was made on an online forum that Calvinism must somehow overcome the stories in the Bible where God changes his mind. Today’s verse came to mind as I contemplated this. God has promised to remove Saul as king over Israel, and Saul pleads with the prophet Samuel, asking if God will relent. Samuel says nope, God is not a man, that he should ever relent.

The curious thing about this verse is it is bookended by two other verses, in the same chapter about the same topic, that indicate God can have a change of heart! Indeed, God relented of awarding Saul the kingship in the first place, and that’s what brought about Saul’s punishment!

Now the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying, ”I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.” (verses 10-11)

Nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul, and the LORD regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel. (verse 35)

Another well-known example of God changing his mind is in Genesis, chapter 6, where it grieves God that he made mankind and he decides to drown everybody in a flood. A third example resides in Exodus, chapter 32, where Moses pleads with God not to destroy his people for their unfaithfulness. God relents. Several other examples exist in scripture, where, apparently, God can swerve toward punishment or swerve toward leniency.

So why did Samuel tell Saul that God doesn’t relent? Samuel probably had just had enough of Saul and didn’t feel like sticking up for him.

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