1 Samuel 15:22 – “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”
Think of a time when you were in school or when your parents gave you instructions to do something. You understand the assignment, but you decide to do half the task, believing that your efforts have been enough. This was always true of my definition of cleaning. Half done was all the way done. As long as I could do enough to get the job done, then it was all done.
In 1 Samuel:15, God has given Saul the task to destroy the Amalekites by “attacking and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” (vv. 2-3) Saul and his soldiers go and destroy the entire town. Except, they decide to spare the king, “Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs — everything that was good…but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.” (vv. 8-9)
Let’s pick the story up here at verse 13: “When Samuel reached him, Saul said, ‘The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.’ But Samuel said, ‘What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?’ Saul answered, ‘The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.’
Saul justifies that he did what the Lord told him. He continues to reason with Samuel in the following verses. Samuel eventually ends their discussion with this: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice.” When God instructs us to follow his commandments, we need to obey them at all times. We don’t get to pick and choose. Our offerings and sacrifices are nothing behind our ability to obey the Lord fully. My hope is that I can become a better servant to God and obey His commands so that my offerings and sacrifices to Him and His kingdom are not for selfish reasons.