The Unchangeable One of Israel
1 Samuel 15:29
And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.

"And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent:
For he is not a man, that he should repent" The word rendered Strength in the A.V. (netsach, here used for the first time) has a varied signification (splendour, victory, truth, confidence, perpetuity, etc.), but is used in this place in the sense of steadfastness, constancy, and unchangeableness. Jehovah, the prophet says, is the Immutability, or unchangeable One, of Israel. He is not like man, inconstant, unreliable, changeable. He is not such an one as Saul imagined him to be; does not vacillate in his thoughts, feelings, or purposes; but acts on immutable principles, and performs the word which he has spoken; and hence the sentence of rejection cannot be reversed. His unchangeableness is often declared in the Scriptures. It is implied in the name of Jehovah. It was dwelt upon by Moses (Deuteronomy 32:4, 18, 31), perceived by Balsam (Numbers 23:19), and asserted by Hannah in her song of praise (1 Samuel 2:2). And although it is often disbelieved or misinterpreted, it is a source of strength and consolation to all by whom it is properly understood and realised. Observe that it -


1. The creation of the world and the varied operations of his hand. It is not stoical indifference (without affection) nor absolute quiescence (without activity). He is the living God, and freely exercises his boundless power in producing infinite changes. "Over all things, animate and inanimate, flows the silent and resistless tide of change." But whilst he is "in all, above all, and through all," he is separate and distinct from all; and the creation of the world and all the mutations of matter and force are only expressions of his eternal and unchangeable thought. The physical universe is the garment in which the Invisible clothes himself and manifests himself to our apprehension (Psalm 102:25-27; Psalm 104:2).

2. The revelations of his character and the successive dispensations of his grace. These are not contrary to one another. They are simply the clearer and more perfect manifestations of him who is always "the same;" adapted to the need and capacity of men. God deals with them as a parent with his children, affording them instruction as they are able to bear it.

3. The relations in which he stands to men, and his diversified dealings with them. They sometimes appear the opposite of each other. At one time he approves of individuals and nations, and promises them manifold blessings, whereas at another he condemns and punishes them. Hence he is said to repent. But the change arises from a change in men themselves. The Glory of Israel always shines with undimmed lustre; but they shut their eyes and turn their backs upon the light, so that to them it becomes darkness. And it is his unchangeable holiness that necessitates this result; for if he were "altogether such an one as themselves," they might expect (like Saul) to enjoy his favour whilst they continued in sin. "With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward" (Psalm 18:26).


1. The perfections of his character. Change is an element of imperfection, and no such element can exist in the absolutely perfect One. With him "there is no variableness, neither shadow caused by turning" (James 1:17). "In him there is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). And it is "impossible for God to lie" (Hebrews 6:18).

2. The principles of his government: wisdom, truth, equity, goodness, etc. In these things he delights, and from them he never departs. They stand like rocks amidst a sea of perpetual change. They are more immutable than the laws of nature, being the foundation on which those laws rest, and inseparable from the Divine character. "The word of our God" (in which they are expressed) "shall stand forever" (Isaiah 40:8; Isaiah 51:6). "Till heaven and earth pass," etc. (Matthew 5:18).

3. The purposes of his heart, formed in perfect knowledge of all that will take place, and effected in harmony with the principles before mentioned. Some of these purposes are hidden (Deuteronomy 29:29). Others are revealed, and include the general conditions of peace and happiness, and the results of their observance or neglect (promises and threatenings), also particular events, occurring either independently of the free action of men, or in connection with it, whether in the way of opposition or cooperation, as, e.g., the setting up of a theocratic kingdom, the advent and death of the Messiah (Acts 4:27, 28), and his universal reign. "The counsel of the Lord standeth forever" (Psalm 33:10, 11; Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 46:10; Jeremiah 4:28). "I am Jehovah, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed" (Malachi 3:6). "When we find predictions in Scripture not executed, we must consider them not as absolute, but conditional, or, as the civil law calls it, an interlocutory sentence. God declared what would follow by natural causes, or by the demerit of man, not what he would absolutely do himself. And though in many of these predictions the condition is not expressed, it is understood" (see Jeremiah 18:7, 8; Ezekiel 33:13, 14; Jonah 3:4; Jonah 4:2).


1. Faith. He never disappoints the trust that is reposed in him. His covenant with his people is firm and sure; "for the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed," etc. (Isaiah 54:10). "All the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen" (2 Corinthians 1:20). What an incentive is thus afforded to each believer, and the whole Church, to "abide in him"! "Whose faith follow, etc. Jesus Christ (is) the same yesterday, and today, and forever; (therefore) be not carried about (like a ship driven by varying winds) with divers and strange doctrines; for it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace" (Hebrews 13:7-9).

2. Love. Only the unchangeable One can be a true, satisfying, and enduring rest of the affections; for all earthly objects change and pass away, and must leave the immortal spirit desolate. His unchanging love should keep our love to him and to each other burning with a steady flame (John 13:1, 34; Jude 1:21).

3. Righteousness.

(1) Which consists in conformity to the constant obedience of Christ to the righteous and unalterable will of the Father.

(2) Which is faithfully assured of enduring blessedness (Revelation 22:14). "He that doeth the will of God abideth forever" (1 John 2:17).

(3) But without which there will be an irrevocable loss of the most glorious crown and kingdom. The persistently rebellious dash themselves to pieces against the unchangeable holiness and justice of God. - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.

WEB: Also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent; for he is not a man, that he should repent."

Samuel Declaring the Deposition of Saul
Top of Page
Top of Page