Signposts: Daily Devotions

Wednesday, July 16

And Samuel said, "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offering and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the Lord?"
—1 Samuel 15:22

For nearly all of history, it seems, humans have believed that pacification of some kind is required to quell God's divine anger. In biblical times, burnt offerings and sacrifices were thought to appease the wrath of the Holy One. The sacrifices and offerings were motivated more by a desire to avoid God's anger than as a symbol of gratitude and love. It is as if we do not really trust in the Holy One’s love for us, and we must somehow curry favor in order to win divine goodwill.

In truth, the heart of God seeks nothing more from us than a relationship of love. The root of the word obedience comes from the French word audience and, loosely translated, means being near enough to hear. God does not demand works of supererogation, nor sacrifices that fulfill some human-made law. What God wants is for us to be near enough to hear—near enough to listen to what the Holy One has to say—so near that our heart can absorb the words of God and act on them.

Can you imagine how your relationship to and with God would change if you stopped trying to please a capricious and potentially angry deity, and chose rather to come close enough to the heart of God to hear the words of life?

O God, when my fear of you, or my own guilt, leads me to try to appease you with gifts, let me hear the soft whisper of your call simply to come into your presence.

The Signposts for July are written by Renée Miller and originally appeared on in 2004.