I saw some notes from I don’t know when in the margins of my Bible next to this verse. The note reminded me that “Selah” can mean “stop and think about this” and continues to ask “What will God remember if I have never sacrificed?”
So I stopped and I thought about it.
I’m tempted here to get all interpretive about the various sacrifices and what they mean and all that, but the basics are these: grain (the source of the meal offering) was made into bread which was the basic building block of the diet in the ancient world and the burnt offerings were livestock which were a measure of wealth in the ancient world — reference the book of Job and passages in Genesis about Abraham’s wealth. On a fundamental level, this verse talks about sacrifices of our wealth (burnt offerings) and our necessities (meal offerings). Leviticus gets into detail as to which parts of the animal were offered and how and what had to be mixed in with the meal (flour) offered. I’m not going to go off into that level of detail at the moment.
Each person has places in which he or she is wealthy. Some have a wealth of talent. Some have a wealth of time. Some have the wealth we commonly think of and have resources to spare. This verse asks that God would find my burnt offerings acceptable. This means a few things. First, I have to make burnt offerings in order for God to find them anything. I should be giving of those things in which God has made me wealthy — talents, time, resources, whatever. If I don’t have resources to spare, God is well aware of that. What do I have? Am I offering that bounty back to God? Second, I have to make those offerings in the right way. I can’t just bring any old thing to God and expect Him to be happy with it. If I want my offerings to be acceptable, then I have to make them in the way God has prescribed. Third, God is examining what I offer Him. That I offer Him something is a good beginning, but He examines the offering to determine its acceptability. Have I given Him something valuable or have I slid my left-overs His way and expected Him to be grateful?
All of us have things we need: food, shelter, covering, sleep, friends, family. Sometimes, we have to offer God the things we need; the things that are basic to life. There have been times of fasting (going without food in favor of prayer) in my life. There have been sleepless nights spent reading The Bible or praying. Sometimes — just sometimes — it is good for a believer to offer something that is necessary to God. Sometimes we give up our meals to fast and pray; other times to give our meal to someone who seems not to have had a meal in far longer than we. These can be offerings made to God. And, if memory serves, these offerings were generally fellowship or thanksgiving offerings — voluntary and involved with how we relate to God and each other.
What am I offering to God? If I offer nothing, then that is what He will remember. If I offer something, then He will appraise it. If I offer what He has commanded me to offer, then it will be acceptable and remembered. What am I offering to God?