What is the significance of 1 Samuel 15:35?

“…the Lord was sorry that he made Saul king over Israel.” (see 1 Sam. 15:12).

Once again, the Lord expresses his regret over having made Saul king of Israel, an emotion which is inconsistent with the classical view of God’s foreknowledge.

It’s important to note that Samuel had prayed all night trying to change the Lord’s mind regarding Saul’s dethronement (vs. 13) but in this instance it seems the Lord’s decision was final (cf. 1 Sam. 13:13–14). Hence, as Saul begged Samuel to try to change things (vs. 27), Samuel responded, “the Glory of Israel will not recant or change his mind for he is not a mortal, that he should change his mind” (vs. 29).

The verse does not say that God cannot change his mind (which is what the classical view requires), only that in this instance he will not change his mind. His mind is resolved on this matter and, unlike mortals, once God’s mind is truly resolved he does not change it. (There are other verses in which the Lord declares “I will not change my mind” [Ezek. 24:14; Zech. 8:14], but these exceptions prove the rule: ordinarily God is willing to change his mind if the situation calls for it [cf. Jer. 18:7–10; Jon. 4:2; Joel 2:12–13]).

Category:
Tags: ,
Topics:
Verse:

Related Reading

In light of Einstein’s conclusion that time is relative, how can you believe that God is not above time?

Relatively Theory basically stipulates that whether an event is viewed as being in the past, present or future depends on where one is in relation to the event in question as well as how fast one is moving. Some people conclude from this that Relativity Theory lends support to the classical view of God in…

How can prayer change God’s mind?

You’ve argued that since God is all-good, he’s always doing the most he can do in every situation to bring about good. But you have also argued that prayer can change God’s mind. How are these two beliefs compatible?

God’s Regrets and Divine Foreknowledge

One aspect of the portrait of God in Scripture that suggests the future is partly open is the fact that God sometimes regrets how things turn out, even prior decisions that he himself made. For example, in the light of the depravity that characterized humanity prior to the flood, the Bible says that “The Lord…

Topics:

Dealing With Objections to Open Theism, Part II

There are four major objections to Open Theism. In this post, we are dealing with the third and fourth. (See yesterday’s post to read about the first two.) Objection #3: God cannot foreknow only some of the future. It is often argued that for God to be certain of anything about the future, he must be…

Topics:

Does Following Jesus Rule Out Serving in the Military if a War is Just?

Jesus and Military People Some soldiers responded to the preaching of John the Baptist by asking him what they should do. John gave them some ethical instruction, but, interestingly enough, he didn’t tell them to leave the army (Lk 3:12-13). So too, Jesus praised the faith of a Centurion and healed his servant while not…

Hearing and Responding to God: Part 1

A reader contacted Greg asking about making “right decisions” assuming an open future and in light of the fact that God seems to rarely speak clearly. In this first response, Greg acknowledges that even with the best of intentions, our decisions can have outcomes that are unexpected even to God! How can we move forward…