Sacrifice Can Never Be a Substitute for Obedience
In 1 Samuel 15, we find the story of Saul choosing sacrifice over obedience. At the beginning of the chapter, Samuel relays to Saul the message that God wants him to go and destroy "the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys" (1 Samuel 15:3) because the nation of Amalek opposed Israel when they came from Egypt.
Saul did as he was told. He established an army and attacked the Amalekites, killing all of them. However, he spared the Amalekite king's life, King Agag, and took him captive instead. He also spared the lives of the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs. First Samuel 15:9 says, "They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality."
God was justifiably angry at Saul. He said, "I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has not been loyal to me and has refused to obey my command" (1 Samuel 15:10). When Samuel confronted Saul about this, Saul's response was that he had spared the best of the animals to offer them as a sacrifice to God.
Even though it may look like Saul did something noble to honor God, he still disobeyed Him. Any sacrifice he could offer God would not be a sufficient substitute for obedience. Samuel explains this in 1 Samuel 15:22:
“But Samuel replied, 'What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,
and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.'” (1 Samuel 15:22)
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