“And Samuel said, ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen, than the fat of rams.”
-1 Samuel 15:22
This is one of the most well-known verses in 1 Samuel, as we see this picture all over 1 Samuel, chapter 15, of claims to be worshiping God, offering sacrifices before God; even some of the things Saul is doing. But what’s happening is indirect disobedience to God.
The danger here, that we see in 1 Samuel, chapter 15 is that religion offering sacrifices, even participating in supposed worship, is a mask, can be a mask for disobedience. Can I say that one more time? Like religion and religious observances, worship participation even, can be a mask to cover up disobedience in our lives. And God is saying here in His word, to obey is better than sacrifice.
He says this to His people over and over again in the Old Testament, “You bring your offerings and your sacrifices, your songs. I’ve not asked for these things. I’ve asked for your hearts and your lives in obedience to me.” And if we’re not careful, any one of us can get caught up in doing religious things, while covering up for disobedience to God’s Word in our lives.
So we all need to pray, “God help us. Help us to give to you in worship what you have asked; the obedience of our hearts. God help us to hear your Word, and to obey your Word; hear your voice, and obey your voice. We pray that you would be glorified in our obeying your voice. God, we pray you would keep all of us, from at any point, getting caught up in practicing religion, and going to church, and participating in this or that activity, while disobeying you and your Word in our lives.”
“God help us to continually confess our sins, and walk in your grace, listening to your voice, your word, and checking our hearts, our thoughts, our desires, our words, through the filter of your Word. Our actions, our interactions with other people, through the filter of your word, that we might obey your word. Keep us from deceiving ourselves into thinking we are honoring you, while we are actually disobeying you. God help us, we pray. By your grace, by the power of Jesus’ love and work in our hearts. God help us to live in such a way that you delight in our obedience to your voice, and in this way that our worship before you would be true and right, and holy, we pray, in Jesus’ name. We pray this according to 1 Samuel 15:22. Amen.