Obedience is Better than Sacrifice

And Samuel said, Hath 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 hearken than the fat of rams (1 Samuel 15:22, KJV)

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What do you think God wants most from us? Our money, time, resources, service, etc.? No. Above all, He desires our obedience to His commands. In Christianity, everything has its place—there is a time for obedience and a time for sacrifice. Our problems begin when we confuse their order or attempt to substitute obedience with sacrifice. In this devotional, we’ll explore how Saul’s disobedience led to the downfall of his dynasty, a tragic pattern that still recurs in the lives of believers today.

The LORD instructed Saul through the prophet Samuel to destroy the Amalekites and leave nothing alive. That was his divine instruction. However, Saul and his army spared the Amalekite king and the best cattle, directly contradicting God’s command.

Saul spared the best cattle to offer burnt offerings to God. His intention was to appease God with an animal sacrifice, disregarding the explicit command he had received. This led to Samuel’s solemn rebuke in 1 Samuel 15:22, stating that obedience is better than sacrifice. In the following verse, Samuel emphasizes that rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft in God’s eyes.

Today, we still grapple with the tension between obedience and sacrifice. Both are important, but they must be kept in the correct order of priority. Following God’s Word is more important than any sacrifice we can offer with our time, money, resources, service, or ministry. Consider the irony of a thief who steals to pay tithes, or the temptation for preachers to dilute God’s Word to avoid reducing church attendance and offerings.

We might question Saul’s decisions, but it’s crucial to recognize that similar situations occur frequently in our lives and churches today. It is by grace that we survive. Remember this: there is nothing more important than obeying God’s commands as given in His Word—never disobey God’s Word to please people or to substitute your obedience with “working for Him,” “sowing seeds,” etc.


Consider how obedience and sacrifice function in our lives today.

Apply the Word

A preacher or worship leader who continues to “minister” despite having an affair or a church member who gives faithfully yet refuses to forgive are examples of repeating Saul’s mistake. The Lord values our obedience above our sacrifices. Prioritize surrendering to Him and obeying His Word; only then will your sacrifices yield profound results.


Ask the Lord to help us surrender to His Word and avoid repeating Saul’s catastrophic mistake.

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