Of the Duty Which God Requireth of Man
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…

This text is a reproof given to one that wore a crown, teaching him, that though he was Israel's sovereign, he was God's subject. In the words we may notice the duty which God requires of men, which is obedience. What they are to obey is the voice of the Lord, whereby He manifests His will: it is His revealed will, whatever way He is pleased to notify it to them. Hence the obedience in the text is called hearkening. The excellency and eminency of this duty. God delights in it. All other things must yield to it, but it to none.

1. The duty which man owes unto God. That is obedience. We are in a state of subjection to God. He is our Superior, and His will we are to obey in all things. He is our King, and we must obey Him as His subjects. He is our Father, and we must show Him all respect, reverence, and affection as His dutiful children. He is our Lord and Master. and we must yield Him the most cheerful and unlimited service, as is our reasonable duty. He is our supreme Lawgiver, and we must receive the law at His mouth, every law and precept, every ordinance that is stamped with His authority, whatever is subscribed with a "Thus saith the Lord," readily obeying it.

2. Of whom the Lord requires this duty. No man can be free from this duty more than he can be a God to himself.

3. The rule of that obedience. It is the will of God. His will is our supreme law. Not the secret will of God; for that which God never revealed to man, cannot be his rule; but the revealed will of God (Deuteronomy 29:29).

4. The properties of this obedience which God requires of man.

(1) It is sincere obedience to His will. Hence David says, "I was upright before Him" (Psalm 18:23). Hypocritical obedience may please men, but not God, the searcher of hearts. All obedience without uprightness or sincerity, is a mere counterfeit, an empty pretence, which will be rejected with abhorrence.

(2) It must be constant obedience.

(3) It must be tender obedience. We have to deal with a jealous God, whom whorish looks will offend (Ezekiel 6:9). We cannot be too nice in obedience.

(4) It must be ready obedience, like that of those of whom the Psalmist speaks, "As soon as they hear of Me, they shall obey Me" (Psalm 18:24). God's call and command must drown the voice of carnal ease, and all arguments arising from spare thyself.

(5) It must be universal obedience (Psalm 119:6), in "having a respect unto all God's commandments." The whole of the commands of God have the same Divine stamp upon them. They are one golden chain: whoso takes away one link, breaks the chain; if the connection be destroyed, the whole machine falls asunder Whoso makes no conscience of any one known duty, discovers hypocrisy in the rest.

(6) It must be absolute obedience, like that of Abraham (Hebrews 11:8).

(7) It must be perfect; though now in our fallen state we cannot give any obedience that deserves that epithet. God may and does require of all men in whatsoever state, "Be perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." The believer, sensible of his utter incapacity to perform such an obedience to the holy law of God, renounces all his own sinful and imperfect, though sincere obedience, and betakes himself to the complete obedience of his Surety, and presents it as his own to God. which He accepts.

5. On what accounts do we owe this obedience to God. On these principally,

(1) Because He is our great and glorious Creator, to whom we owe our life and being.

(2) Because He is our chief end, the chief and last end of all being.

(3) Because He is the conserving cause of all. As He gave man a being, so He upholds and preserves him therein, by His mighty power.

(4) Because of the eminency of His nature, which founds His supreme dominion over us.

(5) Because He is our good and gracious Benefactor, from whose bountiful hand all our mercies do flow.

(6) Because He is our Governor and supreme Lawgiver. He is a Lawgiver to all, to irrational as well as rational creatures. Does God require from men obedience to His revealed will? The doing of what God does not command can be no acceptable service or obedience to God. Our duty to God is not to be measured by our imaginations, but by the revealed will of God. Nothing but what is commanded of God can lawfully be the object of our duty. Those who never heard the gospel will not be condemned for their not believing it; for the revelation of God's will must go before our actual obligation to it (Romans 2:12). This ought to stir up all who bear the Christian name, to be vigorous and lively in obeying God, particularly the great command of believing in the name of His Son; as considering that whosoever doth not so obey and believe the gospel, shall be damned (Mark 16:16).

(T. Boston.)

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.

Obedience Better than Sacrifice
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