April 23, 2023

The rejection of Saul

Passage: 1 Samuel 15
Service Type:

Theme: The LORD’s true King brings salvation and justice; obedience is better than sacrifice

Did God change his mind?
According to 1 Samuel 15:11, the LORD is said to regret that he had made Saul king. From elsewhere in Scripture we know that God is unchanging (immutable, cf. Numbers 23:19) and all knowing (omniscient, cf. Jeremiah 23:24) and thus it cannot be that he changed his mind because something happened which he was not expecting or did not foresee. The regret should therefore be understood as an anthropopathism, a literary device that ascribes human (anthropos) emotions (pathos) to God. A similar device is anthropomorphism, which ascribes human form or activity to God (e.g. The LORD walking in the garden, Genesis 3:8).

God is spirit (John 4:24) and he is much greater than we can comprehend (Psalm 145:3). He has revealed himself to us in Scripture in a manner that helps us to understand something of who he is. Similar to the way in which a mother speaks to a baby, the LORD's revelation is accommodated to human cognisance. He uses concepts and ideas we are familiar with (e.g. regret) so that we can better understand his nature.