No True Worship or Service Without an Obedient Heart
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…

We are all apt be form a false estimate of our character, and to approve ourselves in the face of heaven, and maintain our uprightness in the presence of men. when miserably deficient in our duty. when deeply stained with the spots of guilt and rebellion. Commonly indeed it happens, as in the case before us, that the truth of the matter is made manifest to our fellow creatures; that even they are not often, or not long, deceived in farming a judgment of our character: but however this may be, "shall not God find it out?"

1. If the Creator prescribes a method in which He will be honoured and served, it is not for the creature to substitute any other method of his own. Every religious service derives its value from its accordance with the will of God: all other services will be disowned and rejected. For instance, the Almighty has ordained, that His blessings shall be obtained by prayer: it is not for us to say, that He knows our wants already, better than we can detail them; and that therefore it is useless to pray. The value and efficacy of sacrifices resulted entirely from the appointment of God; and they could not possibly be acceptable, unless as offered in obedience to Him. Had Saul offered thousands of sheep and oxen, not of the spoils of Amalek, but from his own flocks and herds, in an impenitent and self-confident disposition, the Lord would have abhorred them all; how much more then, when the animals had been spared in direct, disobedience to His positive command. But so it was, that the people were always resting on the outward form, and overlooking the thing signified; mindful of the service, but regardless of the heart. And for a plain reason: because the service itself was easy, and satisfied the deluded conscience, and left the offender in quiet possession of the sinful habits in which he delighted: and because the submission of the heart was irksome and painful, and required a discipline, a humiliation, a change of character and of life, which the offender was little disposed to undergo.

2. Without a sincere and humble spirit of subjection, without a holy and obedient heart, all our prayers and all our services are nothing in the sight of God; are founded in hypocrisy; are no better than a mockery of his name. Submission to the authority and will of God must ever be essential to true religion under every dispensation; and few persons there are, who doubt this as a speculative truth. But there is a vast difference between the outward submission of an unrepentant and ungodly heart, and the inward submission of the penitent and the pious! It is the subjection of mind, the surrender of the affections to the will and law of God, which constitutes an acceptable service. Pardon is graciously promised to all who truly repent, and the word of God assures us, that it will be extended to none besides: upon what ground then can the unrepentent sinner presume to ask forgiveness? And how can that man dare to implore of God the grace to repent, who has no intention and no real desire of repenting? He is but adding insult to his sin. How can the wilful sinner who lives, and is yet determined to live, in any course of guilt, really pray for deliverance from the bondage of sin? Does he expect that a miracle will be wrought to deliver him against his will? So far from resolving, he does not even wish to be changed from sin to holiness, from the world to God. In truth, it is not prayer at all; it is but the semblance and pretence of prayer.

3. Let us look well to the root and to the fruit of our sacrifices: see that they are all offered in an humble and obedient spirit, that we feel and desire what we say in the awful presence of a holy God: see that the submission of our lives is consistent with the submission of our persons before Him; that whatsoever we do, we do out of respect for His authority, out of love for His law, and obedience to His command.

(J. Slade, M. A.)

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.

Saul's Obedience
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