Article of the Month
A DIFFICULT SCRIPTURE —
A DELIGHTFUL DISCOVERY
There are times when we examine certain Scriptures in
the Bible when we feel a certain uneasiness about them.
Often, various translations don’t seem to help.
Equally often, lexicons and other reference works
don’t seem to supply what we need.
Nevertheless, we know instinctively (and by
comparison with other texts) that the thought as
presented seems faulty.
Genesis 6:6 and 7 is just such a passage.
The New American Standard reads:
“And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on
and He was grieved in His heart.
“And the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I
from the face of the land…for I am sorry that I
have made them.’”
The context is the preparation for the great flood of
But the troubling aspect is that God’s character and
foreknowledge (Acts 15:18) of all that will happen
before it ever happens precludes the idea that He could
do something and then repent for having done it.
Thus, this passage is hiding something
from us. And
if we can discover what is hidden, we will be wealthier
It was a curious discovery that began to open the answer
to this problem.
In a study on the word “comfort,” it was noticed
that the problem word here in Genesis (“sorry” — or
other variants like “repented”) is the same Hebrew word
from which “comfort” is consistently translated. In the
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance (or its modern
equivalents such as the New American Standard
Exhaustive Concordance), it is number 5161 in the
Its primary definition is “to be sorry, console
Some of its translations in the NAS are:
While attempting to understand how this single word
could have what seem to be such conflicting meanings, we
find that two of it is translations supply a valuable
“Change” and “think better” are words which form a
foundation for both COMFORT and REPENT.
True comfort comes from
a change in our
thinking, our circumstances, or our attitudes.
True repentance or sorrow likewise comes from
a change in our
With this in mind we are doubly blessed in our
In the case of “comfort,” we are brought to the
conclusion that true comfort cannot happen until the
– either because his circumstances change, or
because his perception of his circumstances change.
Thus, comfort is not just someone’s patting us on
the back and saying, “There, there.
Everything will be fine.”
Comfort comes about because we change.
Likewise, when we are sorry, a change has
occurred in us.
The application of this concept to the difficult text
of Genesis 6:6, 7 seems to eliminate all problems from
God doesn’t have regrets; He doesn’t
doesn’t have to say “I’m sorry!”
He doesn’t CHANGE (Malachi 3:6).
But He can change His
in dealing with His creatures when it is time for the
next progressive step in His plan for creation’s
His approaches change; but He never changes.
He simply applies the next needed building-block
for the accomplishment of His purposes.
This is what happened at the flood.
Thus we have several lessons from one Hebrew word.
We see that God can change approaches without
changing character or wisdom.
We see that true repentance requires change in
our inner beings.
We see that comfort is impossible without
We also see that an in-depth search into the uses
of a single word can give us the true foundation
meaning of the word — a meaning which a dictionary
may never supply.
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