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Obedience Is Better Than Sacrifice in Parenting Too!

King Saul really messed up. He had a task. One ordered by God. He was to destroy the Amalekites. All of them. He didn’t do it. “Obedience is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” Samuel told him.

Then the Prophet Samuel delivered the bad news, “You have rejected the word of the Lord, (so) he has also rejected you from being king.” Can you see the warning to parents in this scripture?

Let me explain…

mon and boy reading the bible learning obedience is better than sacrifice

Throughout 1 Samuel 15, we’re given the play-by-play of King Saul’s quest of the Amalekites. First, God had used the Prophet Samuel to deliver clear instructions regarding the destruction of the Amalekites. Second, Saul didn’t do it. Third, Saul lost everything. His kingdom, his throne, and his authority.

Let’s back up a bit and look at 1 Samuel chapter 15 just a bit closer, so we can more clearly understand how obedience is better than a sacrifice in parenting too.

In 1 Samuel 15:14 Samuel calls King Saul out on the carpet. He rebukes King Saul for keeping flocks after a victory of war. God had instructed Saul to destroy the entire nation, but he spared the king and the livestock because he feared the people.

Samuel told King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:17, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord appointed YOU king over Israel. The lord sent YOU on a mission.”

Samuel then sheds some much-needed light on both our authority as parents and the truth about scriptural obedience. Learn more about biblical parenting here.

Our Authority as Parents and the Truth About Scriptural Obedience.

While liberally passing out grace, hand over fist, we need not forget, “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22

God gave Saul a very clear and important instruction. Saul chose to operate in fear of the people and obeyed their voices instead of God’s.


King Saul fell into the same trap so many moms find themselves falling into today. The trap of the fear of judgment, fear of what people will say, fear of parenting failure, and the fear of not getting it right. Read more about parenting fear here.

The trap of fear, period.

Saul’s consequences?? He lost his kingdom. He was stripped of his throne. He lost all authority.

Can you see the parallel?

Dr. James Dobson says something to the effect of, “If you have a child, I’ll teach you how to raise him. If you have a teenager, I’ll pray for you.” (Shelley’s paraphrase)

Dr. Dobson’s point and King Saul’s mistake are one in the same.

Saul thought maybe he knew what he was doing. Maybe keeping the best of the livestock to sacrifice was a good call. Maybe he could offer them up as a sacrifice.


But that’s not what God told him to do. It wasn’t the instruction. It wasn’t the command. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t obedience.

little boy reading the bible learning obedience is better than sacrifice

What Does Obedience is Better Than Sacrifice Mean?

Obedience is submission to authority. Authority is present variously through all walks of life, for the good of all humankind. It’s necessary.

Lack of obedience in the workplace is insubordination.

Lack of obedience in children is rebellion.

Lack of obedience to God is sin.

In the story of King Saul’s disobedience in 1 Samuel 15, the sacrifice referred to was an actual sacrifice. When we’re talking about our roles as parents, the sacrifice is a metaphor for anything we do INSTEAD of following God’s instruction for parenting. Likewise, when we’re talking about a child’s role as a Christian child, the sacrifice is a metaphor for anything they do instead of following our instruction as acquired by God.

Obedience isn’t a bad word. It’s not mean, repressive, or ugly. It’s meant to protect, lead, and love so long as the heart of the authority is such.

What is the Importance of Obedience in Parenting?

Christian and non-Christian parents alike can see the importance of obedience in parenting anytime their child darts away from them in a crowded parking lot.

It’s not difficult to see the importance of obedience in parenting when a child is being disrespectful, sassy, mean, or defiant.

However, what’s crucial is to be able to understand the importance of obedience in parenting long before these problems arise, so a culture of obedience is established to prevent such behavior.

Bible Verses Supporting Obedience

Because God often emphasizes and reminds His people repeatedly of the truth He wants us to understand, let’s look at a handful of other places in scripture where we’re taught about obedience.

1. Deuteronomy 4:1 “And now, O Israel, listen to the states and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you.”

God wants good things for His people. Much the same, we want good things for our children. We are older and wiser for a reason. Our rules are there to protect, lead, and bless. Therefore, we provide rules to accomplish this.

2. Romans 5:19 “For as by one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”

In this scripture, the Apostle Paul is referring to Adam’s disobedience and Jesus subsequent obedience to go to the cross. What I like to remind myself is that Jesus asked God to “take this cup from me” in Luke 22:42.

Obedience certainly isn’t always easy and our children may not always hop right up and do something difficult without resistance. Obedience measured by the final outcome.

3. Philemon 1:21 “Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do more than I say.”

Paul trusted the obedience of Philemon to forgive Onesimus. Not only did he trust it, he believed Philemon would go above and beyond the call of obedience, showing us a pattern of obedience builds a reputation of trust.

4. Hebrews 5:8 “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.”

Obedience is like a muscle that can be made stronger through practice. In this scripture, we’re once again shown Jesus’ obedience as he suffered in the garden shortly before his crucifixion.

5. 1 Peter 1:22 “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart…”

Obedience has a purification quality. As our children practice their obedience muscle and building character and a good reputation accordingly, they become more so purified through Christ.

The Practical Benefits of Teaching Kids Obedience is Better Than Sacrifice

#1. Child Safety Through Obedience

Thanks to a former part-time job, my husband has high-level security training. He is skilled in picking out suspicious indicators in a crowd.

Therefore, when we are out and about and he says to drop what we’re doing and head to the car… we do it! The children never question why or fuss about the instruction.

They know everything daddy instructs them to do is for their own well-being and so they respond obediently. They are kept safe because of it.

#2. Less Mom Stress Through Obedience

Pleasant outings, cheerful helpers, good behavior, and regular compliance make for a less snappy, stressed out, or miserable mommy.

When you take the time to train obedience, obedience isn’t the reward. The improved relationship, more joyful time together, additional time to enjoy each other, and the strengthened family unity is the reward!

You’ll be a better mom when you train obedience. And being a better mom is better for everyone.

#3. Family Unity Through Child Obedience

My family sits down to play a family game most nights of the week. We laugh, enjoy each other, and cultivate our family culture.

This is possible largely in part due to the mutual understanding we all have of the necessity to follow the rules with obedience. Not only the rules of the game but the rules of conduct.

Treat each other with loving respect. Encourage with our words. Edify. Speak life. Play fair. Be kind.

When the whole family is operating in one obedient accord there is far greater family unity.

#4. Family Strength Through Parental Obedience

I begin chore training quite young. First-time obedience is expected. This way of life over the past decade has resulted in children who can take care of the house when I am sick, cook for themselves if necessary, and bless my socks off every time they do.

Likewise, we have a standard of behavior between siblings. Consequently, the kids know how to treat one another, can count on each other to defend, and make each other’s well-being a priority.

As a result, they’re strengthened because of it.

#5. Valuable Life Skills Learned Through Obedience

Recently I was driving down our winding road when a male teenage driver crossed far over the yellow line coming around a turn. He was headed straight at me and my children and had to swerve to get back in his own lane.

I wondered at that boy’s obedience level up to that point…

Had his parents expected first-time obedience throughout his life? Did they consider his reputation and character before handing him the keys to a two-ton vehicle that can kill others if not used OBEDIENTLY?

I don’t know. Maybe they had and it was a fluke. Maybe not. Perhaps he was given the keys because of some loose societal norm that doesn’t fully understand the necessity of obedience for valuable life skills.

Possibly he was given keys to a car without the understanding that staying between the yellow lines must be followed with absolute obedience, or innocent people may pay with their lives.

family working together picking up trash learning obedience is better than sacrifice

Obedience is Better Than Sacrifice but Whose Responsibility is it?

Finally, the task of teaching obedience falls squarely on your shoulders, Mama! No one loves your child as you do. You were created for your child and your child for you.

Therefore, no one will care more about parenting obediently to God and teaching your child obedience to you, than you!

You are called to obedience to The Father and furthermore called to teach obedience to your children, that they may also grow to walk obediently with God.

Fear God, not man.



  • Amy says:

    But how do you obedience training a 5 year old. Desperately need help

    • Shelley says:

      Hi Amy!

      I understand your desperation. My recommended course of action for you would be to: Read Here first. Read Here second. Read Here Third. Request and read my ebook here. Then apply everything you’ve learned.

      I know it can feel overwhelming. The most effective way to tackle everything is to tackle one thing at a time. Get really good at once aspect, then move onto the next. You got this!

      p.s. Also, my full parenting devotional is available here. This would be a great resource for you as well!


Hi there! I'm Mama Duck,

I'm a stay-at-home/work-at-home, homeschooling Mama of 4 beautiful kiddos, wife to my loving husband, Parenting Coach, Speaker, and Writer. I adore the sound of my children's giggles, that first sip of hot coffee, and a snuggly blanket fresh out of the dryer. Here on Faithful Parenting, my heart is to equip mamas with the skills, knowledge, and biblical wisdom to raise fantastic kids and build a tethered family!