Readings for the Day
1 Samuel 15-16, 1 Chronicles 5, Matthew 2
Verses of the Day
22 But Samuel replied: "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
The context of this story is that King Saul is sent by Samuel to destroy the Amalekites, who God has given into their hands. But instead of completely wiping them out, he and his men spare King Agag, and take the best of the plunder for themselves. Worse yet, as Saul comes back he tries to deceive Samuel by saying he brought back the best of the animals to sacrifice to The Lord, when he is really building a monument to himself. When Samuel confronts him in his lies, Saul breaks down and he admits he was only trying to please his men, because he was afraid of them. This was the beginning of the end of King Saul, and led to the anointing of King David, son of Jesse.
Then Samuel says this in the verses above. Samuel makes the statement that obedience is better than sacrifice. Is sacrifice for God bad? No, but in this case Saul's sacrifice was a cover up for his sin and disobedience. The Lord would have much preferred him to merely obey what he asked him to do. In this case the best sacrifice for Saul would have been to sacrifice trying to appease his men so he could honor and obey God.
Obedience isn't a very popular word today. It is often associated with a slavish legalism. But in 1 John the apostle says, "By this we can be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments." Some might say, "Isn't sacrifice the same as obedience?" It might, or might not be, depending on the motive. Sacrifices in Saul's day or ours can look good on the outside, but it doesn't reflect an offering of our lives back to God.
In Psalm 51:17 it says this,
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
God you desire our obedience from a heart submitted to you. We know you delight not in showy sacrifices, but the living sacrifice we make each day of our bodies and minds in response to the sacrifice you made for us. Amen