Obedience Better than Sacrifice
1 Samuel 15:22
And Samuel said, Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold…

Great and glorious is sacrifice; final and abiding its effects. On that sacrifice all access to God depends. By faith in that sacrifice does every sinner in every age approach God. What can we conceive greater, better, more honoured, more glorious? God has given it us to trust to: He has given it us also to imitate. Let sacrifice be our rule of life: sacrifice for God and for man; sacrifice for love: to spend and to be spent, as He spent and was spent, who was our Sacrifice. Let our whole life be a sacrifice; rendered up to Him with whose precious blood we ere bought. Too much we cannot think of, trust to, realise in our hearts and lives, that his sacrifice. And yet when we have meditated on it all we can, when we have cast ourselves in humble trust on its efficacy, when we have magnified it in our esteem, and striven to live it out in our lives — even then there is one thing better, one thing greater, one thing more glorious — one thing before which even the lustre of the Redeemer's sacrifice pales: before which all other sacrifice is worthless and not to be mentioned. And that more glorious thing is — OBEDIENCE. The Lord's sacrifice was but part of His obedience. "Being found in fashion as a man," from whom obedience was due, "He become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Listen to his own prophetic words: "Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not: then said I, lo I come, to do thy will, O God." That is, "sacrifice and offering do not fulfil, do not exhaust Thy holy will: it is not suffering, it is not expenditure of blood, but it is the calm and willing submission to Thee, the ruling life after thy way, the direction of thought, word, and deed, body, soul, and spirit, affection and energies, in the line of thy blessed will — this it is which includes sacrifice — this which, more than that sacrifice, because of wider extent, and fuller capacity, pleases and glorifies Thee." And this the Redeemer came to do, and amply fulfilled. It is to obedience that Bethlehem owes all its carols, Genesareth all its miracles, Calvary all its glories, Olivet all its triumph. His miracles, His teachings, His lovings: none of these reaches over the length and breadth and depth and height of His glorification of the Father: but His obedience does: in this one word all is compromised: His death, as its noblest example. His obedience was greater than His death, for it included it: more glorious than his death, for it gave it all its virtue for propitiation, and all its power to save sinners. His death is past and gone by. "He dieth no more." But His obedience abides forever. "And when all things shall have been put under Him, then shall the Son Himself also be mede subject to Him who puts all things under Him, that God may be all in all." Truly, then, His obedience is His one character, His glory of glories. Let us come down now from the propitiation of the Redeemer as part of His perfect obedience, to our own little circle of duties, appointed for us as His were for Him. "To obey is better than sacrifice," is in some little danger of being forgotten among us, or at all events not remembered as it should be. And I will tell you in what particular way. Religion, among us, has taken a certain fixed place and standing: has been worked, so to speak, into the fabric of society. Its words and phrases, and certain conventional duties corresponding to them, have gained the freedom of the world's citizenship, and are no longer the peculiar badge which they once were. Certain points of religious morality are made much of, and properly, by all who would be thought religious, even in the ordinary respectable sense of the word. We live, there can be no doubt of it, in days of great religious stir; in days of great sacrifice, and like. wise of great opportunity of appearance of sacrifice at very little cost: in days when, only to give you one instance of that which I mean, a rich man, sitting in his library, may without ever putting forth a hand to actual charitable work pour by a few strokes of his pen his thousands along the various channels of public and private beneficence. And there is some danger, there is much danger, lest we should mistake all this sacrifice at so cheap a rate, all this doing good made easy, for the patient faith, the lowly obedience, the blessed and blessing beneficence of the Christian life. Is there not, then, here, while sacrifice is enjoined, truth in doctrine rigorously maintained, party opinion and party limits inflexibly observed, and yet the very plainest rules of Christian conduct and Christian self-denial publicly violated — is there not and must there not be a forgetting of obedience in comparison of sacrifice? When those who would not for any earthly consideration overstep some prescribed line of observance, are for pleasure and the display of person almost daily overstepping the sobriety of the Christian life and the fair limits of Christian example, surely we may say that we are losing obedience in our care for sacrifice. All the sacrifice for which we are called on, should be part, of, should spring out of, our personal life with God Our profession should revolve round our practice, not our practice round our profession. Our obedience should not be confined to things convenient and times convenient, but being the fruit of love shed abroad in our hearts, should extend over all things and all times.

(H. Alford, B. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: Samuel said, "Has Yahweh as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Yahweh? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.

Obedience and Sacrifice Compared
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