Daily Office Readings for Monday of Proper 9: Year 1
“And Samuel said, ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the Lord? Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” (1st Samuel 15:22)
I think this is a very important lesson for Saul, and for us, but it needs to be understood in a way that is more meaningful for us today.
The point that Samuel is making is that to God, obedience is more important than sacrifice. That is, adherence to what God tells us to do is more important than what we give to God in terms of the fruits of our labor as well as the time spent in worship and adoration.
Obedience is a matter of doing what God says. This could be interpreted as following the Law, and in Saul’s case, as with Moses, following the Law to the letter. I understand that there were 613 Laws that must be obeyed. Not all of these are applicable for us today.
For us who follow the Jesus movement, we only have two commandments; we are to love the Lord our God with all of our being, and we are to love our neighbors with the understanding that all people are our neighbors. This first law might contain everything that is found in sacrifice to, and worship of, God. This public adoration of God is made manifest after our private adoration of God. According to Samuel’s lesson of obedience, while it is the second lesson, it seems to be the weightier of the two. We are to love our neighbors, and for Christians, as Jesus loves us, to the letter and to the cross.
There are words in the old song, “Walk On The Wild Side,” as sung by Brook Benton that say, “One day of praying and six of having fun, the odds against going to heaven; six to one.” This translates to loving people along with praying, is a seven day a week necessity. We might assemble one day a week, but private prayer and worship along with living out the real love of people is an everyday affair and the only way that we obey God.
For me then, obedience to God is made manifest in living a daily loving life, and is far more important than public Church attendance and worship. However, if we do assemble in Jesus, we ought to also resemble Jesus.
Let us live in order that we might love, rather than just live to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John