1 Samuel 15:22,23 - Obedience vs Sacrifice
1 Samuel 15:22, 23; Obedience vs Sacrifice.
1 Samuel 15:22, 23 (NLT) But Samuel replied, "What is more
pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your
obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. Listening
to him is much better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is
as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as
worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has
rejected you from being king."
1 Sam 15:22, 23 (CWR) Samuel said, "Do you know what makes the
Lord happy? It's not the sacrifices and offerings we bring to Him.
No! It's our love and obedience that pleases Him because that shows
that we trust Him. Sacrificing animals doesn't make Him happy.
Rebellion is as much a sin as consulting demons. Arrogance is as evil as
worshipping idols. Since you have openly disobeyed the Lord twice, He now
rejects you as king." Then Samuel turned to leave.
The Lord Rejects Saul (15:1-35)
Psalm 40:6-8 (KJV) Sacrifice and offering thou didst not
desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast
thou not required.  Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the
book it is written of me,  I delight to do thy will, O my God:
yea, thy law is within my heart.
Psalm 51:16-17 (KJV) For thou desirest not sacrifice; else
would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.  The
sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O
God, thou wilt not despise.
Proverbs 21:3 (KJV) To do justice and judgment is more
acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Isaiah 1:11-17 (KJV) To what purpose is the multitude of your
sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of
rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of
bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.  When ye come to appear before
me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? 
Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the
new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away
with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.  Your new moons and
your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I
am weary to bear them.  And when ye spread forth your hands, I
will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will
not hear: your hands are full of blood.  Wash you, make you
clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to
do evil;  Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the
oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
Jeremiah 7:22-23 (GW) When I brought your ancestors out of
Egypt, I did not tell them anything about burnt offerings and
sacrifices.  But I did tell them this, 'Obey me, and I will be your God,
and you will be my people. Live the way I told you to live so that
things will go well for you.'
Hosea 6:6 (KJV) For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the
knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
Micah 6:6-8 (KJV) Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and
bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt
offerings, with calves of a year old?  Will the Lord be pleased with
thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my
firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my
soul?  He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the
Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to
walk humbly with thy God?
Matthew 9:13 (KJV) But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I
will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the
righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Matthew 12:7 (KJV) But if ye had known what this meaneth, I
will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the
Mark 12:33 (KJV) And to love him with all the heart, and with
all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the
strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole
burnt offerings and sacrifices.
Hebrews 10:9 (GW) Then Christ says, "I have come to do what you
want." He did away with sacrifices in order to establish the obedience
that God wants.
1 Chron. 28:9 (KJV) And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God
of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a
willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all
the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found
of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
2 Cor. 6:16 (KJV) And what agreement hath the temple of God
with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath
said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
Rev. 22:15 (KJV) For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and
whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a
Rev. 21:8 (KJV) But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the
abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters,
and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with
fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Eccles. 5:1 (KJV) Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of
God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools:
for they consider not that they do evil.
COMMENTARY / APPLICATION
Here we are plainly told that humble, sincere, and conscientious
obedience to the will of God, is more pleasing and acceptable to him than
all burnt-offerings and sacrifices. [Matthew Henry Commentary]
What God seeks in every person is not sacrifice, but a humble
spirit, and a devotion to the Lord that is expressed in obedience.
[Victor Teacher's Commentary]
A statement of principle that is timeless in its application:
[Bible Knowledge Commentary]
This is the first of numerous places in the Bible where the
theme "to obey is better than sacrifice" is stated (Psalms 40:6-8;
Psalms 51:16, 17; Proverbs 21:3; Isaiah 1:11-17; Jeremiah 7:21-23;
Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8; Matthew 12:7; Mark 12:33; Hebrews 10:8, 9).... A
sacrifice was a ritual transaction between man and God that physically
demonstrated a relationship between them. But if the person's heart was not
truly repentant or if he did not truly love God, the sacrifice was a
hollow ritual. Religious ceremonies or rituals are empty unless they
are performed with an attitude of love and obedience. "Being
religious" (going to church, serving on a committee, giving to charity) is
not enough if we do not act out of devotion and obedience to God.
[Life Application SB]
Saul had lost his early humility (9:21) and became proud and
disobedient; he had rebelled against the Word of the Lord and had tried to
make up for his disobedience by sacrifices (vv. 21-23). Saul had
substituted saying for doing (15:13); excuses for confessions (15:15 and
21); and sacrifice for obedience (v. 22). [Wiersbe Expository
Saul had failed so miserably He tried to cover his sins with
religious activities, promising to offer sacrifices to God. But God was
more interested in Saul's confession and obedience than in his
sacrifice. [Life Recovery SB]
Saul was slain by one of the very Amalekites he had refused to
destroy (2 Sam. 1:13). [Wiersbe Expository Outlines]
Is God pleased when you use company time to prepare your Sabbath
school lesson? How about driving 65 m.p.h. in a 55 m.p.h. zone so you
won't be late for church? Is it okay to cheat on your income tax if
you give the benefits of your "creative arithmetic" to God?
There is a fundamental question behind these situations and
countless others you may face during your lifetime: How important is
obedience to the Word of God? Is keeping His commands more important than
trying to do something else you think will please Him more?
For King Saul, the question carried life-or-death importance. He
concluded that God would overlook his incomplete obedience because of the
generous sacrifices he offered, the money he gave to God's service, the
time he spent in God's house. The decision cost him his kingdom--and
eventually his life.
When God speaks, do you listen? And then do you act? You cannot
learn too well the lesson which Saul failed to learn at all: "Hath 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 hearken than the fat of rams" ( 15:22 ). Obeying God with
half a heart can only lead to a broken heart--every time! [Your Daily
The one thing that ruined Saul's life and destroyed his future
was his inability to trust God, expressed in his failure to obey.
This is what's so encouraging about Saul's story. As we read it we
come to understand the central issue in the spiritual life. Saul's
story teaches us that the one thing we must do is to trust God, and
that trust will free us to obey.
When you or I feel fear or sense panic, that's the time to pause
and remember who our God is. To think about His greatness. To
remember His power. To meditate on His love. When we keep our hearts
fixed on who God is, we trust ourselves to Him. And we obey. [The
365-Day Devotional Commentary]
To obey God in some things and not in others shows an unsound
heart. Thomas Watson [Spirit Filled Life Devotional SB]
Obedience to God is the highest virtue. Sacrificial offerings
matter only if the worshiper's heart is right before God. [Jamieson,
Fausset, And Brown Commentary]
Without pure love the most expensive offering is too poor for
God to accept. 2T652-3
Only he who believes is obedient; only he who is obedience
believes. [Your Daily Walk SB]
The alternative to obedience is costly: Selfish refusal to
submit to the commands of the sovereign Lord results in slavery to
malign forces in the demonic realm. [Expositors Bible Commentary]
"Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as
iniquity and idolatry." Rebellion originated with Satan, and all
rebellion against God is directly due to satanic influence. Those who set
themselves against the government of God have entered into an alliance with
the archapostate, and he will exercise his power and cunning to
captivate the senses and mislead the understanding. PP634-5
Saul's stubborn disobedience was essentially an act of idolatry
because it elevated his will above God's will. [Nelson SB]
Many would make any and every sacrifice but the very one they
should make, which is to yield themselves, to submit their wills to the
will of God. 4T84
God is more glorified and self more denied by obedience than by
sacrifice. It is much easier to bring a bullock or lamb to be burnt upon
the altar than to bring every high thought into obedience to God and
the will subject to his will. [Matthew Henry Commentary]