1 Samuel 15:11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night.”
The Bible makes it very clear that God is perfect in all His ways. His perfection is demonstrated by His nature and that is in turn revealed by His actions. The Lord God is the first order of all things. He establishes the ideal of what love looks like, He is consistent in perfect faithfulness, He has all power, majesty, and knowledge in all He does.
If God cannot make mistakes, if He sees the end from the beginning and exists apart from time and corruption, why would He ever regret a decision that He has made?
Regret from a human position would indicate a mistake. We might regret making a decision based off a lack of foreknowledge, without understanding the due process of a choice we make, without proper wisdom by which we make those choices, we can regret those choices later.
Some choices are for lack of planning, for instance if we plan a road trip without plotting out our destination we might make a wrong turn along the way. I realize GPS has eliminated a lot of those past mistakes but for those who have lived prior to this technology they know all too well the pain of plotting a course in a foreign city and getting turned around.
Along with God showing regret, He also demonstrates disappointment.
Mark 4:39-41 “Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
When Jesus and the disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee a fierce storm arose, Jesus having been exhausted was asleep until the storm seemed to threaten their lives, upon awakening and witnessing the fear of the disciples Jesus responded with a rebuke. How could the disciples think they were all going to die if they believed Jesus was the Messiah?
The reality of the disciples hearts was a lack of faith in Christ. If a rebuke doesn’t demonstrate disappointment then what does?
Genesis 6:6 “The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.”
During the days of Noah the earth was filled with people who acted continually in evil. The Lord looked upon the earth and regretted making mankind at all.
Did the Lord not see this coming?
Of course God knew that mankind would fall, having given men a choice whether to accept or reject the Lord was an open door to sin and rebellion. Love cannot be expressed by one who is forced to love, the decision has to be voluntary and so during those days the manifestation of corruption had reached its peak.
Regret is demonstrated in the hebrew with the term Nacham. The meaning of the word implies a time of mourning that brings comfort. When God repents, He turns away from those He once looked upon, the implication is vengeance and judgement that is final. We witness this turning away many times in God’s Word, the trouble that falls upon mankind during these moments in time have brought much misery. To those who have partaken of a reckless abandonment to sin, sometimes God shows pity and delays His judgement.
1 Samuel 15:29 “And He who is the Glory of Israel will not lie, nor will he change his mind, for he is not human that he should change his mind!”
Changing one’s mind might indicate a difference of opinion based on gaining new insight or knowledge, since God doesn’t need more insight we can leave that possibility out of the equation. The Lord has proven on many occasions to change His course of action or at least left room for the possibility. When Abraham discovered that God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord allowed Abraham to bargain for the cities if more than 10 righteous were found. When Moses came down from the mountain and found the people living in sin, the Lord was going to destroy them all and start over through the seed of Moses, God allowed Moses to plead for the people and turn from His wrath.
When the Lord changes His course, He shows grace to people. He gives room to the frailty of man’s weakness and allows him to take part in His greater design.
Like Adam who was given charge over God’s Creation, the Lord amazingly allows His people to partake in His work. From carrying about the majesty of His presence upon salvation to the great honor of partaking in sharing the gospel, being light in the darkness—even in the end, Jesus will allow His people to partake of His glory.
2 Corinthians 3:18 “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
Because we have been allowed into the realm of God’s perfect plan, we can bring disappointment to God when we fail to trust Him, we can cause regret when He has entrusted us with something so important as representing Him, and we can fail to meet the expectations that He has placed within us.
Did God see any of this coming?— Of course He did, and yet He still allows us to try. Just like those who will be judged for their unbelief, it will not be for lack of God giving them opportunity to follow Him.
We will look back on our lives one day and we will not be able to blame God for any of our shortcomings. He has given us ample opportunity to partake in great reward, it’s His compassion that allow us to even try.
I believe you have been given opportunity for greatness in God’s Kingdom, it is only limited by your measure of faith in Him.
How much do you trust Him? What is holding you back?
Those are only questions you can answer, hopefully when you do you’ll find the faith to move forward into the hope God has given you, a hope that allows you to partake in the divine calling of God over you.