“Has 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 heed than the fat of rams.”
— First Samuel 15:22
Soon after being rebuked by Samuel (1 Sam. 13:13–14), Saul again displayed this fundamental problem. God wanted the Amalekites utterly destroyed (1 Sam. 15:3), yet Saul kept alive the king and the best of the livestock (v. 9). He may have thought that such good livestock shouldn’t be wasted, but rather used as offerings for his previous failures.
When Saul attacked the Amalekites, he probably intended to carry out God’s command to utterly destroy them from the face of the earth, but once he saw how fine their sheep and goats were, he relented and preserved alive what he deemed best, thinking it would please Samuel to have such for offerings (v. 15).
Any idol that a believer possesses should be destroyed. What if, however, that idol is of great value? Some idols are treasured as artwork and are highly valued by collectors. Wouldn’t it be reasonable, if an idol was valued at many thousands of dollars, to sell it to a collector, and then donate the money to the work of the Lord? We may easily destroy a cheap idol, but what of an idol that is of great value? I hope you would destroy it! God does not need such offerings. He is able to provide whatever His people need.
Adapted from David: After God’s Heart, page 35.