15:22 to obey is better than sacrifice: Samuel emphasized that sincerity and obedience were the prerequisites for worship that pleased God. There are those who have used this and similar verses to argue that God never intended that sacrificial worship be used to honor Him. Yet such verses do not undermine sacrificial worship; they place it in the true context of the importance of the heart of the person who comes to worship the living God.
15:22 — “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.”
Our heavenly Father places a high value on obedience, preferring it even to outward expressions of worship. In fact, our obedience is the ultimate expression of worship and service.
15:22 to obey is better than sacrifice. This is an essential OT truth. Samuel stated that God desires heart obedience over the ritual sacrifice of animals (cf. Ps 51:16, 17; Is 1:10–17). The sacrificial system was never intended to function in place of living an obedient life, but was rather to be an expression of it (cf. Hos 6:6; Am 5:21–27; Mic 6:6–8).
15:22 The Lord himself does not need sacrifices like gods in other religions. Rather, the people need to bring sacrifices in order to approach the holy God (see Leviticus 1–5). Even the best sacrifice without obedience gains nothing.
15:22 Sinners replace real obedience with outward tokens (see Mic. 6:6–8). Full obedience from the heart is found in Christ (Heb. 10:5–10).
15:22 To obey is better than sacrifice Although the law required the Israelites to offer sacrifices to God, the sacrifices were never intended to take the place of obedience.
the fat of rams Consumed in the sacrifices.
15:22 Samuel was not suggesting that the sacrificial system be abolished. Neither was he assigning these practices to a place of relative insignificance. Samuel was insisting that the symbols of the faith of the people were of no value when the disposition of the people was to disobey God and to refuse to listen for His voice. What was true for Israel is true for the church today. Rich symbols degenerate into empty and often superstitious ritual when the practitioners neither obey God nor seek to hear His voice. Saul claimed that he acted in a noble manner to preserve the best of the Amalekite flocks for sacrifice (v. 15; cf. 22:19). Samuel viewed the same act as rebellion, because Saul violated the command of God (v. 3).
15:22 God gladly accepted the sacrifices of His worshipers during the OT era, as long as their gifts were accompanied by a proper attitude of the heart. People had offered sacrifices since the days of Cain and Abel, and God received them (Gn 4:3–4). In the law given at Mount Sinai, the Lord required the Israelites to bring burnt offerings and a variety of sacrifices to Him as part of their regular worship. But, as Cain learned (Gn 4:5–6), a sacrifice that was not matched with a life in submission to God was not acceptable (see Is 1:11–17; Ps 51:16–17; Pr 21:27; Jr 6:19–20; Am 5:21–24; Mc 6:6–8). Samuel, in the present verse, gives voice to that truth.
15:22 Samuel’s words to obey is better than sacrifice drove home the point that partial obedience of God was really disobedience, and full obedience of God mattered more than any human-concocted alternatives.
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 Beyer, B. E. (2017). 1 Samuel. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 433). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.