What pleases God?
If our heart is not right before God, then no amount of sacrifice is going to matter.
Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; my ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.
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What pleases God?
For a Hebrew of David’s day, their relationship with God all revolved around the dietary laws and the sacrificial system; it was how they related to God. From birth they were trained that to be right with God they needed to make sacrifices for their sins. Different sins required different sacrifices, but all sins required some sort of sacrifice. It seems odd that the leader of the Hebrew nation would make a statement like the one that David did above.
God had caused David to understand something about the heart of the whole sacrificial system that many people of his day or when Jesus ministered on the earth or in our day have come to understand. The sacrificial system was a picture of the sacrifice that Jesus would make on the cross, but it was also to show that sin causes death. Unfortunately, many view the sacrifices as a way of paying for their sins or as a way of pleasing God. Sacrifices neither pay for our sins nor do they please God.
David also wrote elsewhere that the sacrifices that are pleasing to God are a broken and contrite heart. Because we don’t slaughter a lamb as a sacrifice to God, we may not truly appreciate what this verse means to us. Now we use different forms of sacrifice to accomplish the same thing. We might sacrifice our money in the form of tithes and giving. It might be a sacrifice of our time as we serve in our local church. Some might sacrifice stuff given to a needy person or organization. What David was made to understand and that we need to understand is that none of that pleases God.
What pleases God is the person whose heart is turned to God and is tender toward His will and plans. Out of that heart will naturally flow sacrifices to God. It is not the sacrifices that please God; it is the heart that is the source of those sacrifices. If our heart is not right before God, then no amount of sacrifice is going to matter. Only a heart that is filled with the love of God can provide a sacrifice that is pleasing to God. We should also note that the opposite is also true; if there is no sacrificing taking place within a person’s life, we must question whether the love of God is in their heart.
The remarkable thing about our verse for the day is that David didn’t know this intuitively; God had to make David understand this. Something happened in David’s life that made him finally listen to what God was telling him. Once David started to listen to God, he understood what God was telling him. If you don’t understand this lesson that God wants us all to understand, He will allow things to happen in your life that are designed to make you listen. If we are slow to pick up on this lesson, we can rest that God will patiently keep applying the pressure until we hear Him and understand Him. Jesus, help us to listen attentively and learn quickly.