In my devotional readings today, there is a passage in 1 Samuel where the phrase “It repented the Lord that He had made Saul king over Israel.” A short while later, and Samuel tells Saul that God is not a man, that He should repent. A short while later, it says… it repented the Lord He had made Saul King.
So… what does this mean? repentance with man is a huge word, one bearing a great deal of Bible study. Many people who claim to be Christians today would relinquish that claim if they really made a study of repentance a priority.
For man, there is an implication of a descent into sin, or walking away from God. And repentance is going the other way.
God cannot go away from God. God cannot sin.
So, what WE consider repentance cannot possibly apply to God.
Indeed, since God is perfect Holiness, righteousness and Truth… God cannot repent.
So, what does it mean that God repented?
The closest God can come to repentance, because He is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent… is to be sorry. God was sorrowed that He had to make Saul King, and it grieved Him.
Nothing Saul did surprised God. God had reasons why He chose Saul to be King – the main one being that the people had to learn it is not by flesh or by power. David was smaller than Saul, and probably not very inspiring to look at. God perhaps understood that if God brought David into the picture, that Israel would not accept him.
But Saul was big. He was quite tall and physically impressive. The people thought of him as a warrior. They wanted a King who would go out there and single handedly fight the enemy for them. Saul most certainly wasn’t the solo champion they assumed he’d be.
Once the people saw that mere physical power did not a King make, they were ready to accept David. Saul was a mess, and certainly mismanaged Israel.
So it repented God that He made Saul king over Israel.
The gist of it is – think “Sorrowful”.