The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices. ~Proverbs 21:3 NLT
Abraham once believed he should do what God told him to do, regardless of the consequences. The Lord stopped him from sacrificing Isaac, though, because Abraham’s obedience was what God really desired.
In 1 Samuel 15 we read a story about King Saul, who ruled over the Israelites just prior to the reign of King David. The Lord ha decided to fulfill a promise he made much earlier, in Deuteronomy 25: 17-19, where he told Israel they would eventually be used to punish the Amalekites:
Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. When the Lord your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!
Go gave Saul very specific instructions to fulfill what he had spoken:
Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.
But something went terribly wrong. In 1 Samuel 15:7-9:
Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt. He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs – everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
Saul was rejected as king because he failed to obey. He decided instead to keep the best of the best for himself, and to sacrifice the leftovers to God. But God didn’t want his sacrifice, he wanted Saul’s obedience. In 1 Samuel 15:22-23, we read:
But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”
Micah 6:8 reads, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
What does God expect you to do today? Are you determined to obey him?