Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 15:8
"The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight"
This proverb notes a significant difference between relationships with God and ritualized religion. It was assumed by many Jews that the sacrifice of an animal – especially a whole burnt offering – was the height of worship; the most pleasing act any Jew could perform for God. In this proverb, God says through the mouth of Solomon that God looks much deeper than just the act itself. God states that the simple prayer of an upright person is a delight to Him, while the holiest act that a Jew could think of is despicable when performed by a person living in rebellion outside of God's moral boundaries.
It is not certain rituals performed in certain ways that please God. It is a heart full of righteousness – a desire to please God with one's life.
In our New Testament era, one could make the correlation: The ministry of a wicked person is an abomination to the Lord. Or the church-going of a wicked person is an abomination to the Lord. Or the Bible reading of a wicked person is an abomination to the Lord.
but the prayer of the upright is His delight
The word pray is the Hebrew word tepellia which is always in the hithpael stem which is the reflexive stem. Since the word prayer seems to come from the Arabic word to break or to cut, some have suggested that the reason the word prayer almost always appears in the hithpael stem is that appropriate prayer is a personal breaking, submission, and contrition as one approaches God. One cannot really approach God in prayer without being contrite and submissive.
It is amazing that we can give God delight by living an upright life and praying. Think that through. We can bring delight to the Supreme Being of the Universe – the one who dwells outside of the universe, who created it all, who is invisible, all wise, sovereign, and faithful – who is cheered with delight when one of his little creatures orients himself/herself towards His ethical standard and prays.
It is significant to realize that I can bring delight to the heart of God by praying when I am living right... I need to do this more...
The word upright means conforming to an ethical standard. It carries with it the idea of not just staying within God's moral boundaries but orienting oneself towards the right purposes within those boundaries. When we talk about God's boundaries, we often talk about the edges of the boundaries. How far you can go and still be okay. While this is important, it really misses the point. If you spend your life on the edges of God's acceptable moral boundaries, you will not be pleasing to Him. One really needs to concentrate on the positive commands that direct you to the center of God's moral structure. Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart soul, mind, and strength and Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. This is the essence of uprightness.
In what ways have you loved God today with your whole heart? Are you planning anything today that will do this loving of God?
Do you have plans to love your spouse, children, parents, colleagues, friends, neighbors in some way today? If not, make some plans. It is far more important that you love than that you don't steal, lie, curse, etc. For if you refrain from the negative, you haven't moved past a self-focus until you have actually done the positive.