Obedience, Not Sacrifice
1Sam. 15:22 And Samuel said,
“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed than the fat of rams.
Saul and his army had gone to battle. God had instructed them to destroy the enemy and everything that they had. Instead, Saul had saved the very best of their enemy and brought it home with him. His excuse was that he would be using these in sacrifice to God. However, that wasn’t what God had asked him to do and now the prophet Samuel has to come and confront him with his disobedience.
God didn’t ask for the burnt offerings — he asked for Saul’s obedience. Somehow Saul was rationalizing his behavior and saying because he was going to sacrifice these animals it was okay to take them, trying to appease God and Samuel. It didn’t work. Saul’s motivation came from selfishness and not out of a love and desire to be obedient to God. The sacrifice isn’t what’s important, the heart is!
Samuel went away sad, never to see Saul ever again. God instructed him to anoint David to become king. Saul’s disobedience led to his demise and failure.
Saul went off to war and responded in a way that “he thought” would make God happy. The problem here is that Saul got too busy doing things “for” God that he forgot to spend time really “knowing” God. By lacking that personal and intimate knowledge of God, Saul did what he thought God would find pleasing. The problem was, Saul had wandered so far from the heart of God that he didn’t understand what God truly wanted from him.
This temptation to wander away from the heart of God is very real. Even followers of Jesus Christ get so busy in doing the work that they believe they are called to do that they fail to spend time with the Lord and to get their instructions from him. In this way it’s far too easy to become disobedient because we fall into a trap of thinking that God wants certain “things” from us. God doesn’t want or need our “things.” God wants us.
When I was a little girl my mother planted hundreds of roses and flowers around our house in Germany. She loved to give bouquets of flowers as gifts to people, and she enjoyed having the beauty in our home as well. I remember once when I was very young my mother sent me outside to cut some daisies to put into a vase in the house. I didn’t really pay attention to the instructions that mom was giving me and so I went outside with the scissors and began to look around. Not having listened well I cut down my mother’s gladiolus instead of the daisies. There is a HUGE difference between these two. I remember proudly walking into the house with the gladiolus (which were not meant to be cut and brought into a house!) and presenting them to my mother. I thought she would be proud of the beautiful flowers I had brought her, but she wasn’t all that happy with me. While they were lovely flowers and she would end up using them, I had not listened and I had not been obedient to what she had been trying to tell me. In my haste I had not done the right thing. I don’t recall her being upset at me, but I do remember feeling a bit like she was disappointed in me. Not so much about the flowers, but because I hadn’t listened and obeyed.
Our heavenly father doesn’t want us to bring him things. He wants us to listen at his feet and soak in what he has to tell us. His desire is for us and for our lives and when we go off in too much of a hurry without really listening to what he trying to tell us, we will fail. He doesn’t want our sacrifices or our stuff. He just wants us!
Lord, may I slow down and hear your voice so that I may live in obedience to you. Amen.