Immutability of God (Psalm 102:26–28)

Trusting the immutability of God helps us when we feel weak and afflicted. The unchangeable God is our source of confidence and strength.

Immutability of God (Psalm 102:26–28)
Photo by Robby McCullough / Unsplash

0. Introduction

What do you do when you feel weak, confused, and under duress?

  • Some people cope by eating chocolate.
  • Others may search the internet to find a self-help solution.
  • Today's passage gives us an answer to this very question.
  • Look to our immutable God.

Introduction to Psalm 102

  • The author of Psalm 102 is not identified.
  • No historical context is given.
  • There is only a description of the situation given in the superscript.
    • "A Prayer of the afflicted when he is faint and pours out his complaint before Yahweh."
  • Why are we seeking to understand this morning the immutability of God?
    • The unchangeable God is our source of confidence and strength when we are weak, confused, and afflicted.
  • This psalm has three strophes. [Reformation Study Bible]
    • The psalmist pours out his complaint before the Lord (v.1–11)
    • The psalmist puts his focus on the Lord (v.12–22)
    • The psalmist prays with confidence in the Lord (v.23–28)

Simple Roadmap

  • The truths in these three verses are not complex but simple.
  • There are three main points.
  • First: All Creation Changes (v.26)
  • Second: God Remains the Same (v.27)
  • Third: Our Hope Is Secure (v.28)

1. All Creation Changes (v.26)

  • Grass withers, and flowers fade.

  • In our mother's womb, we begin to grow.

  • We mature, age, and weaken, and then we die.

  • During the time of the Old Testament, two aspects of creation seem untouchable and unchangeable: heaven and earth

    • "Of old, You founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish." (v.25–26a)
    • "[The psalmist] names here the most stable parts of the world, and the most beautiful parts of the creation...that are freest from corruptibility and change, to illustrate...the immutability of God."[1]
  • The earth seems to withstand storms and earthquakes.

  • Humanity cannot touch, corrupt, or change the character of the sun, moon, and stars.

  • But all creation, even heaven and earth, will eventually wither and perish. No part of God's creation can avoid change.

Illustration: Clothing

  • To illustrate this, the psalmist uses the example of clothing.

"All of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing You will change them, and they will be changed." (v.26b)

  • How many of you wear the same clothing every day?
    • None. Clothing gets dirty, stained, and damaged.
    • Even if your clothing is not thin or worn out, it may not fit you anymore.
    • Clothing goes out of style.
    • Items of clothing inevitably gets discarded and replaced.
  • The same principle applies to creation. All creation changes.
    • We learn, and we forget.
    • We grow stronger, and we also age and weaken.
    • We feel happy, and we get sad.
    • We are beloved by others, and we form new enemies.
    • We love, and we lose interest.
    • We give birth to new life, yet all of us will one day eventually die.


A. Sin laid the foundation of the world's decay.

  • It was man's sin that propelled our world into this process of decay.
  • God told Adam, "Cursed is the ground because of you." (Gen 3:17)
  • But even before sin entered the world, creation was still changing.

B. Fools set their hearts upon that which will perish.

  • "Professing to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the likeness of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures." (Rom 1:22–23)
  • The fool exchanges the unchangeable God for some aspect of creation that changes.
  • We cannot rest on anything in this changing world.
  • Money will fail you.
  • Your intelligence and physical abilities will fail you.
  • People will change. They will leave. They will fail you.
  • Power and popularity does not last.
  • Christian, do not depend on things that are perishable.
  • Instead, depend on God.

We can depend on God because "God Remains the Same."

2. God Remains the Same (v.27)

"You will remain...But You are the same, and Your years will not come to an end." (v.26–27)

  • The word immutable means "unchanging over time; unable to be changed."
  • The Bible teaches us that God is immutable. "God remains the same."
  • The immutability of God is an incommunicable attribute.
  • "Immutability marks a fundamental distinction between the Creator and His creation, between God and humanity." [2]

Even God's name indicates His immutability

  • "God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM'." (Ex 3:14)
  • God's name, Yahweh, signifies his eternality and his immutability.

Illustration: The Bible gives us two illustrations of God's immutability.

  • God is likened to a Rock. (צוּר tsur)
    • "The Rock! His work is perfect, " (Deut 32:4)
    • Not a little stone, but a massive cliff or mountain. Like El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
    • God is named Rock (צוּר tsur) to highlight his stability and permanence.
  • God is compared to light. (φῶς)
    • "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." (Jm 1:17)
    • James is comparing God to the heavenly lights.
    • During this time, heavenly lights were unreachable, untouchable, unchangeable.
    • 1 John 1:5 states that God is absolute light without darkness.

The Bible teaches us God remains the same through propositional affirmation, through God's name Yahweh, and through word pictures like "Rock" and "Light."

There are at least four ways that God remains the same.

A. God is Unchangeable in His Essence

  • God's essence refers to everything about God that makes Him divine.
  • God's essence refers to both His divine nature and His moral character.
  • The Father is God. The Son is God. The Holy Spirit is God.
  • The Father is not the Son. The Father is not the Holy Spirit. The Son is not the Holy Spirit.

What makes the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit divine (What makes God, "God") never changes.

  • Westminster Shorter Catechism (Q4) says, "God is...unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth."
  • "Immutability is a glory belonging to all the attributes of God." [3]
  • "[God] is devoid of all change, not only in His Being, but also in His perfections...Even reason teaches us that no change is possible in God, since a change is either for better or for worse. But in God, as the absolute Perfection, improvement and deterioration are both equally impossible."[4]
  • Even Plato affirmed God's immutability.[5]
  • Aristotle's called God the "unmoved mover."[6]

i. If God's essence could change, God would not be God.

  • Creation is made by God, so our increase is empowered by God.
  • Creation was made out of nothing, so when we decline and decrease, we are tending back to our original state of nothingness.
  • But God is self-existence. He was not created out of nothing.
  • Therefore, God cannot change (increase or decrease), or else, God would not be God.

ii. If God's essence could change, God would not be perfect.

  • Perfection cannot increase. If it could, it would not have been perfect.
  • God's nature cannot increase, nor could it ever decrease.
    • A perfect nature cannot be improved.
    • A perfect nature cannot be injured or worsened.
  • Perfection does not have the potential to be made imperfect.
    • Any risk or threat of imperfection is, by definition, an imperfection.
  • Therefore, God cannot change; else, God would not be perfect.

iii. If God's essence could change, God would not be eternal.

iv. If God's essence could change, God would not be infinite and almighty.

B. God Is Unchangeable in His Knowledge

Nothing is hidden from God.

  • Since the beginning of eternity, God has known all that He can know.

  • "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are uncovered and laid bare to the eyes of Him to whom we have an account to give." (Heb 4:13)

  • We learn. We forget. But God's knowledge is unchangeable.

If God's knowledge changes, He cannot be omniscient.

If God's knowledge changes, He cannot be infinitely wise.

If God's knowledge changes, He is unfit to be an object of trust.

Because God's knowledge is unchangeable, we can trust that God's revelation of His knowledge does not change.

C. God Is Unchangeable in His Word

God's Word never changes.

  • "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." (Matt 24:35)

Illustration: Medical Textbooks

  • Recently, I looked at my office bookshelf, and I noticed that nearly all of my medical textbooks, which I have accumulated in the last 25 years, have a new edition.

  • These textbooks have been updated with corrections, revisions, and additions.

  • God's word, the Bible, does not get obsolete.

  • There is no need for a revised edition.

Furthermore, God's Word Is Incorruptible.

  • "The Scripture cannot be broken." (Jn 10:35)
  • The words of God cannot be voided.
  • Your shortcomings and your sinfulness does not and cannot nullify the word of God.

D. God Is Unchangeable in His Plans

God's will, plans, and purposes are unchangeable.

  • "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished." (Matt 5:18)

  • For God, there is only "Plan A." There is never a need for a "Plan B."

Even the evil prophet Balaam was compelled to say, "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not establish it?" (Numbers 23:19)

"In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, guaranteed it with an oath." (Hebrew 6:17)

Illustration: Daddy's Promises

  • My children are most disappointed in me when I don't fulfill my promises.
  • Something unforeseen happens. Something comes up. And my promises go unfulfilled.
  • God is always faithful to his promises. His plans never change, and He always carries out what He sets to do.

i. Divine Repentance

But wait a minute: Does God change his mind?

  • Genesis 6:6–7 (God regretted His creation)

    • And Yahweh regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. And Yahweh said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I regret that I have made them."
  • Exodus 32:10–14 (God's anger against the Israelites)

    • God tells Moses, "Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may consume them; and I will make you a great nation." (32:10)
    • "Then Moses entreated the favor of Yahweh." (32:11a)
    • "So Yahweh relented concerning the harm which He said He would do to His people." (32:14)
  • Jonah 3:10 (God withholds judgments on Ninevah)

    • "Then God saw their works; that they [the Ninevites] turned from their evil way, so God relented concerning the evil which He had spoken, He would bring upon them. And He did not bring it upon them."

The belief that God has an open-ended changing plan is called Open Theism.

  • Open theism claims that God only knows those truths that are logically possible to know. Therefore, in open theism, God's plans can change in the future, depending on the changing situation.

  • The Bible denies Open Theism.

  • God's actions throughout Scripture do not imply a change in His sovereign will and plan.

At one moment, I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to tear down, or to make it perish, but if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to do against it.

Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it; but if it does evil in My sight by not listening to My voice, then I will relent concerning the good which I promised, to do good to it. (Jeremiah 18:7–10)

Liberty and changeability are two different things.” (Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology 3.12.10 1:206)

  • God has the divine prerogative to choose justice or mercy, and His sovereign choice does not imply changeability.

ii. Divine Relationship (Since our relationship with God changes, does God change?)

  • We assume that when our relationship with someone changes, it indicates that we have changed. That assumption is generally true as it pertains to created beings.

  • Illustration 1: Ice cream

    • Last year, I liked chocolate ice cream.
    • This year, I prefer vanilla ice cream.
    • Therefore, I have changed.
  • When our relationship with God changes, it is not God who changes but us.

    • There was no new relationship acquired by God by the creation of the world.
    • There is a new relationship acquired by the creature who was created.
    • Illustration 2: Skilled writer
  • When man sins, man has a new relationship with God.

    • His new relationship with God is as a criminal to a Judge.
    • But there is no change in God and in his nature, purposes, and plans
    • The only change experienced is in the malefactor.
  • Illustration 3 and 4

    • It's like a house that is warmed up by the sun.

      • The temperature of the house changes, but the attributes of the sun remain.
    • Or when warm wax is stamped by a signet ring to make a seal.

      • Years later, the waxed seal may change in appearance, but it does not suggest that the signet ring has changed.
  • When our relationship with God changes, God does not change.

God remains the same in His essence, His knowledge, His Word, and His plans.

Man's plans can be thwarted and change. Not God's.

  • Job asserts, "But [God] is unique and who can turn Him? And what His soul desires, that He does." (Job 23:13)
  • And because God's plans are unchangeable, it leads to the third point of our passage, "Our hope is secure."

3. Our Hope Is Secure (v.28)

"The children of Your slaves will dwell securely, and their seed will be established before You." (v.28)

  • The psalmist trusts that God will protect his descendants for many generations. [CSBSB]
  • Though he is experiencing suffering in this present time, the psalmist remains secure in his future hope. [RSB]
  • "The counsel of Yahweh stands forever, the thoughts of His heart from generation to generation. Blessed is the nation whose God is Yahweh, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance." (Ps 33:10–12)
  • Our everlasting, unchangeable God ensures our hope.

"For I, Yahweh, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed." (Malachi 3:6)

  • The salvation of God's people is secured by God's immutability.
  • Because God does not change in his purposes and plans, our hope is secure.

The author of Hebrews quotes the Greek translation of Psalm 102:25–27 and makes the subject Jesus, the Son of God.


  • Unlike creation, including the heavens and the earth, Jesus is the same.
  • Therefore, Jesus, "who is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature..accomplished cleansing for sin," makes our future inheritance sure.

4. Conclusion

I don't know how you feel today. But often in this life, I feel weak, confused, and despair.

  • Plans I want to accomplish, I feel ill-equipped and inadequate.
  • Questions I want to answer, I cannot find in this confusing, dark world.
  • WIth disappointments and affliction in this present age mount higher with each passing day, what can we do?

Scripture is clear.

  • Don't set our hearts on anything in this created world. All creation changes.
  • Look to and rest in the unchangable God. God remains the same.
  • Fix our eyes on our future inheritance. Our hope is secured.

  1. Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God (Robert Carter & Brothers, 1853), 311. ↩︎

  2. Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology: Revelation and God, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019), 688. ↩︎

  3. Charnock, 318. ↩︎

  4. Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 59. ↩︎

  5. Plato, The Republic, 2.18–19, sec. 379–81 ↩︎

  6. Aristotle, Metaphysics, 12.7.12–13, sec. 1073a ↩︎