Now we will look at 1 Samuel 2:18-19, “But Samuel was ministering before the Lord. Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice.” Samuel, who was the son of Hannah, was different from the sons of Eli. Samuel offered sacrifices to God. He obeyed God. This was good in God’s eyes.
When God gave commands to King Saul, he did not obey God. So God was angry with Saul and he abandoned him. And God said to him in 1 Samuel 15:22, “To obey is better than sacrifice.” The word sacrifice comes from the Hebrew word, zebach (זֶבַח). It simply means offerings or/and sacrifices. God ordered his people to worship him including the public worship, offerings, and their services at temples. In the time of Samuel, the people of Israel obeyed the law and worshipped God by bringing animals as sacrificial offerings. Because they believe this would make God hear them. They continued to worship in this way until Jesus came. However, later the believers of Christ still did all of these three things(worship, offerings, and services) though we no longer make sacrificial offerings. In addition, believers after the death and the resurrection of Jesus added the action of preaching the gospel. I do believe that all believers of Christ are commanded to do these four things; public worship, offerings to the Lord, our services of helping people, and witness with their whole heart in Spirit and in truth in modern times. When we are obedient, we follow all of these in Spirit and in truth. This means we must obey God with all of our hearts, minds, and souls.
As with the word sacrifice, the term obey originally comes from the word shama (שָׁמַע). We find the word, shama in this powerful message in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. “Hear (Shama), O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road...” Shama means more than merely obey. It means that believers of God must hear the word of God and teach it to other believers, so that they can follow God. The people of Israel taught the word of God to their children, so that they could follow God in their lives. This is the real meaning of Shama of obeying God.
The difference between obedience and sacrifice is that the first one, obedience is to do all of these four things in Spirit and in truth, but the second one, sacrifice is following the laws and traditions. Our sacrifice and the obedience to the law is still important, but more important is to worship God in Spirit and in truth. Our Lord Jesus says quite clearly in John 4:24, “God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Eli’s children disobeyed God. However, Samuel faithfully served God with his sacrifices to God and obeyed God Because of Samuel’s obedience, God blessed him and his family members in great ways. He allowed Hannah to have more children. As we may know, Eli’s two sons were supposed to serve God after their father Eli the priest. However, because of their disobedience, God deserted them.
To summarize, believers of God must obey God in their lives. Obedience requires truthful and heartfelt work for God. Believers of Christ thus need to attend our Sunday services, to give their offerings, to hear and serve God & his people, and witness the gospel at all times. More importantly, all of these four elements are to be present; our worship, offering, service, and witness with their whole heart in Spirit and in truth. This is our spiritual worship to God.
Rev Dr Je Cheol Cook