“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” (1 Samuel 15:22-23).
King Saul had a hearing problem and it ultimately cost him his kingdom. God had been clear and specific with His instructions regarding the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:1-3) but the king had a “better” plan -- one that involved not following God’s directions completely. But apparently his “obedience” was close enough that Saul had convinced himself that had accomplished what God sent him to do (1 Samuel 15:13). At any rate, when confronted by God’s prophet Samuel, Saul begins to backtrack and make excuses. When pressed about his disobedience, he claims that the people spared some things that should have been destroyed for the purpose of offering them sacrificially to God (1 Samuel 15:21). What’s the rationale? Not fully listening to God is okay if done for a good purpose, like worshipping God. But Samuel isn’t buying it! His response is quoted in the two verses at the start of this article. In summary, he reminds Saul that God is more interested in an obedient heart than an act of worship. While worshiping God is important, it should never be used as a justification to set aside God’s directives.
I wonder if we fall into the same trap when we convince ourselves that, if we fill out our Sunday morning checklist of worship activities (singing, praying, communion, study, etc.), God will somehow overlook our disobedience to His directions during the rest of the week. Worshipping God is not some new form of indulgences through which we purchase credits to live as we please. The greatest worship offering is a heart committed to hearing and obeying the Lord (cf. Isaiah 1:11-17; Micah 6:6-8).
God loves you!