To obey is better than sacrifice

Today’s Reading:  1 Samuel 15-17:31

In October 1981 is when I realized my need for a personal relationship with Christ.  A relationship that started by my realizing my need for forgiveness and eternal salvation.  Thankfully one night in my dorm room at college I made a decision to follow Christ’s invitation to follow Him. 

As I have written in another post “I am a Classic Rocker”  I mentioned how important music has been in my life.  Fortunately for me, those first few months of being a new-born Christian I was introduced to the music of Keith Green.  At that time, his style seemed a bit dated, though the new Songs for the Shepherd album came out in early 1982 and it was  a bit more stylized.  I really liked the music, there were sincere lyrics, thought and emotion in Keith’s singing. 

I was fortunate to see Keith Green live in concert a mere 2000 meters from where I lived (and received Christ). He came to play Bradley University’s Robinson Field House just before school let out for the summer.  To this day, I have said that that concert was the most Holy Spirit led concert I had ever been to.  At that concert Keith sang a song called “To obey is better than Sacrifice.” Here is a video of Keith singing the song a few years earlier…

Keith mentions in the video that he got the idea for the song from a study of Saul.  Keith’s study must have been from I Samuel 15, which is in today’s reading.

Saul has been fighting the enemies of God and God wants to end the fighting.  God gives Saul a mission: 

I Samuel 15:1 – 3 (NLT)

1 One day Samuel said to Saul, “It was the Lord who told me to anoint you as king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord! 2 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt. 3 Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.”

Saul wins the battle and makes a selfish decision:

I Samuel 15:9 – 10  (NLT)

9 Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs—everything, in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality.

This disobedience greatly angers the Lord.  A message is sent to Saul through Samuel.  Saul is surprised, he did obey he claims: 

I Samuel 15:20 – 21 (NLT)

20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul insisted. “I carried out the mission he gave me. I brought back King Agag, but I destroyed everyone else. 21 Then my troops brought in the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, and plunder to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

Samuel’s response to this child like defense of Saul’s is very thought provoking verse:

I Samuel 15: 22 – 23 (NLT)

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.
23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft,
      and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.
   So because you have rejected the command of the Lord,
      he has rejected you as king.”

God does not desire that we simply give to go through the motions.  He wants our heart to be in our actions.  He wants us to obey out of the love of our heart.  He wants us to obey because he asked.  Our stubbornness to simply obey the Lord, because He is the Lord, is what He is asking.

How are you doing in the things that God is asking you to do?  Are you obeying because He asked or are you sacrificing because you think it is what you are supposed to do – play the martyr?

Post Script:  Unfortunately, Keith Green died in a plane crash just weeks after I saw him in Concert.  Now, nearly 30 years later, his music lives on.  You must likely sing one of his songs at your church.

About plimtuna

I am just an average guy trying to find his way along this journey of life. I am definitely middle aged. I am definitely happily married with a wife and two children. Personally, I have a passion for things eternal. Professionally, I have a passion for things that are securely in control.
This entry was posted in 09 - I Samuel, Encouragement, Read through the Bible in a Year and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to To obey is better than sacrifice

  1. rseguel says:

    Like Saul, sometimes we think that we’re right and we’re doing the best thing for ourselves or for other people. We think that we’re obeying the Lord, but we’re following our own ideas. If we fear the Lord, then we will obey Him. The Lord says in Proverbs 3:7 NIV

    7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the LORD and shun evil.

    This way, if we fear the Lord, we will get wisdom:

    Proverbs 1:7 NIV
    7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

  2. plimtuna says:

    I love how you bring in other verses into the conversation. I am often just content to get the post out, but you add depth.



  3. Pingback: The Life and Death of a King « 1 Year, 1 Book, Many People

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