Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice….
– 1 Samuel 15:22
The Old Testament prophet Samuel visited King Saul soon after he was set into power as king of Israel.
Samuel arrived to deliver a command from God to go up against the Amalekites and destroy them completely. God instructed Saul to destroy everything belonging to them, as well.
Saul did obey as far as taking his army up to the city of Amalek. There he defeated them. But he spared the life of the Amalekite king Agag and the best of the livestock in the city. The victory degenerated into a looting spree as the men saved what they liked and destroyed the rest.
When God sent Samuel back to confront Saul over his disobedience, Saul explained his motives were pure. He had simply saved the best of the flocks to sacrifice to God.
To obey is better than sacrifice.
The prophet then told Saul, “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king.” (1 Samuel 15:23)
Disobedience against God places another god above Him.
It makes us the judge of the Lord’s wisdom and is inherently anti-Christ in nature. It’s sobering, then, to realize God equates our disobedience with witchcraft.
Conversely, it’s fascinating to read the exploits of believers in Hebrews 11 and see what God describes as acts of faith. In every instance, God honored those who listened to Him, believed in His promises, and were willing to obey what He told them to do.
Here, then, is the next quality of faith:
The willingness to obey.
In Luke 6:46-49, Jesus rebuked those who called Him “Lord” but didn’t obey His commands. He compared an obedient follower with a man who built his house upon a rock. This house, Jesus said, would stand firm against the storms that came against it.
On the other hand, a rebellious person was like the man who built his house on the sand. This house would fall when besieged by life’s trials.
Obedience isn’t about following the rules. It’s not even about compliance.
Obedience is the active response of an open heart to the voice of its beloved master.
There is nothing fake or feigned here. It engages all the qualities of trust and love and humility as we place our own will on the altar. It’s symbolized by a house built on a rock because it is the proof of our faith in Christ, the Rock that will never crumble beneath us when the going gets rough.
As always, God’s commands are meant to build us up and protect us. By walking in obedience to Christ, we live in victory over every circumstance of life.