THE NEW SACRIFICIAL SYSTEM
I asked the Lord recently, "Lord, how come you said you prefer obedience over sacrifice, yet you laid down your own life as a sacrifice for the sacrificial system you set up for your people?"
As I talked this question out with my earthly Father, the Holy Spirit enlightened me. He lifted certain words or phrases for me off the page in the 1 Samuel 15:22 passage and made sense of them for me. The verse reads -
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams."
Samuel hints at the answer in the question itself. He uses the phrase "as much as" to lead our thinking that the second thing mentioned - "obeying the Lord" - is the preferred action. I thought this interesting because the Holy Spirit impressed the idea upon Samuel during the initiation of The Old Testament Sacrificial System. The verse's next phrase, "better than", is the confirming thought.
Whenever I have read this verse, I have always interpreted, for whatever reason, "better than" as to replace "sacrifice". The Holy Spirit pricked my heart and said, "That is not what is said." I understood then that sacrifice was not eliminated in this verse, sacrifice has been improved upon. Plus, we have another sacrificial system established after the resurrection of Christ.
Christ Jesus was perfect in obedience and the perfect, spotless, sinless sacrifice for humanity's fallen relationship with God. Christ obeyed Father God's plan for salvation, by sacrificing Himself in His own blood-demanding system of redemption. And now because of Christ's redeeming sacrifice the next sacrificial system for believers has taken its place - praise and a living sacrifice.
There is a song that goes - We bring the sacrifice of praise, into the house of the Lord, we bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord, and we offer up to you the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and we offer up to you the sacrifices of joy. As with many Christian hymns and modern songs, this song comes from Scripture - Hebrews 13:15. This verse reads -
"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name."
The other kind of sacrifice I have listed, other than praise, is the sacrifice of your body as you live daily for Christ - "a living sacrifice". Romans 12:1 says it best - "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship."
So, does God delight in our sacrifices? Absolutely! He inhabits the praises of His people as they sacrificially worship Him whenever and wherever they are in the day. And He takes note of the way we present ourselves (our bodies) to Him and for Him daily. We must remember we are "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9)
But Wait there is more - obeying God is better than just sacrificing alone. Remember, obedience is an improved add-on that should have been there in the first place. Heeding or obeying His Word will always bring you back around to living a servant or sacrificial life AND delivering a sacrifice of praise to The King. And thus you have The New Sacrificial System.