“I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:8).
Didn’t God require animal sacrifices and burnt offerings? He certainly did (e.g. Leviticus 1–7, 16, 23).
However, some began to treat the sacrifices as if they were all that God desired. Homer Hailey comments, “They thought that by these outward tokens of devotion, void of true piety, all of their wickedness were taken care of” (Hailey, A Commentary on the Minor Prophets, pp. 156-157).
In this, they were wrong. He told them, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice (only, alone B.H.), and knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” He cared how they treated others. He wanted them to come to know and understand Him (to the extent that such was possible) and not rote dispassionate worship (cf. Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:7-8).
He still wants the same. Let us not just worship to Him; let us worship Him in spirit and in truth, and let us truly serve Him in our daily lives.