“What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.
1 Samuel 15:22 (NLT)
When Israel came out of Egypt and passed through the wilderness, the Amalekites attacked them. In 1 Samuel 15 God decides that now is the proper time to punish the Amalekites for this act and He will use King Saul to carry out this sanction.
1 Samuel 15:1-3 says…
One day Samuel said to Saul, “It was the Lord who told me to anoint you as king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord! 2 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt. 3 Now go and completely destroy[a] the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.”
Notice that everyone and everything was to be destroyed. So what did Saul do?
1 Samuel 15:7-9 says…
7 Then Saul slaughtered the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, east of Egypt. 8 He captured Agag, the Amalekite king, but completely destroyed everyone else. 9 Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs—everything, in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality.
Saul partially obeyed. Saul kept the best of the animals and claimed his intent was to offer them as a sacrifice to God. Saul thought he came up with a better plan and in doing so he learned an important lesson: God wants our total obedience.
Partial obedience is actually disobedience, and God just isn’t that impressed when we try to compensate for our disobedience with sacrifice. When we don’t fully obey it shows that we are lacking trust in God and that we’re more interested in pleasing ourselves or others instead of God.
When God asks us to obey He always has our best interests at heart. No one has better plans than God so the results of obedience will always be far greater than the outcomes of sacrifice.