What does “it repented the Lord” mean?


By BibleAsk Team

Does God repent?

The King James version says, “And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart” (Genesis 6:6 also Exodus 32:14). But the New King James Version gives a clearer meaning to this verse, “And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”

Therefore, the words “it repented” the Lord, can be understood as “it grieved him” to His heart. This shows that the repentance of God does not mean a change in His nature or purpose. Rather it is an expression showing the pain of divine compassion that is caused by man’s sin.

Man’s freedom of choice

The evil choices of humans brought death and misery to our world (Romans 6:23). If they remained faithful to God, their lives would have been so much different. They would be living in a perfect peaceful world with a direct relationship with God and the angels. Sadly, they chose evil and are reaping the sad consequences of their choices.

And although human sin fills God’s heart with great sorrow, nonetheless, it moves Him also to judgement against the evil doers for He is just (Psalm 7:11). And He takes action to protect the innocent: “if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it” (Jeremiah 18:10 also v. 8). When men continue in their evil paths and insist on rebellion against Him, the Lord is left with no choice but to administer justice.

Conditional words

God is not a man that he should repent. In this sense God never repents of anything. “And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent” (1 Samuel 15:29). But when people repent and turn from their wicked ways, He also repents of judging them as in the story of the inhabitants of Nineveh: “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil which he said he would do unto them; and he did it not” (Jonah 3:10).

When people change their wicked ways, God changes His dealings with them. The Lord says, “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him…” (Joel 2:12–14).

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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