In the LORD’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him. A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart. To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. Proverbs 21:1-3
But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” I Samuel 15:22-23 NIV
To obey is better than sacrifice.
If I want to be a follower of God – then God wants, desires, and requires my heart. My NIV study Bible has a note on Psalm 4:7 that explains, “heart in Biblical language (is) the center of the human spirit, from which spring emotions, thought, motivations, courage and action – ‘the wellspring of life’ (Prov. 4:23).” When I take this into account, then obedience to God, to His rules, to His laws, to His personal instructions to me – involves my heart, my whole being, my mind, my soul, my emotions and my actions.
What is my heart attitude when God has asked me to do something? Is it like Saul’s? When I read about Saul in I Samuel chapters 9-16 a pattern emerges. Sometimes Saul does what God asks him to do, but often he does it in a partial way, or assumes a role not his own, or he modifies the instructions given to him. It seems to me that Saul often thought, well, God said to do this, but I think doing it my way – in my own timing – is good enough.
When we look at David, we are told he was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). The Lord told Samuel at David’s anointing, “People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart,” I Samuel 16:7b. David was not perfect, he made many mistakes, but one key difference between Saul and David was that when corrected, David repented, and asked God for forgiveness and restoration. Psalm 51:16-17, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”
Jesus often spoke of the hardened or empty hearts of the religious leaders during His ministry. Ezekiel 36:26 tells us God, “will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Micah 6:8 tells us what God desires of us, “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
How is your heart toward God? Read these passages, study them, listen to what God is telling you about your heart. Hosea 6:6, Matthew 9:12-13, Psalm 40:6-8, Hebrews 10:5-10, Micah 6:6-8, Ezekiel 36:24-31.