Why Would God Repent?

Question:

I was reading through an old King James Bible that belonged to my grandpar­ents and came across a verse in Genesis 6:6 that I do not understand. It reads as follows: “And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart.” I didn’t think that God made mistakes. What does it mean when the Bible says God repented? Can you help me understand this passage?

Answer:

This is a good question. It seems to imply that God had committed some sin that He needed to repent for or that He needed to correct some mistake that He had made.

The New American Standard Bible gives us a clearer translation of this verse: “And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” The New King James Version has translated this verse the same as the NASB.

First of all, the word for “repent” found in the KJV is the Hebrew word: “nacham” which means to “be sorry, to grieve.” According to The Complete Word Study of the Old Testa­ment (AMG Publishers, p. 2339), “nacham” is essentially a change of heart or disposition, a change of mind, a change of purpose, or a change of one’s conduct.”

Most of the references of this Hebrew word are in connection with God’s “repenting,” but how can He repent when He is free of sin? . . .

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