“But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.”
King James Version (KJV)
12:7 I will have mercy and not sacrifice - That is, when they interfere with each other, I always prefer acts of mercy, before matters of positive institution: yea, before all ceremonial institutions whatever; because these being only means of religion, are suspended of course, if circumstances occur, wherein they clash with love, which is the end of it. #Matt 9:13|.
Mt 12:7 But if ye had known what [this] meaneth. They ought to have known, for they professed to be interpreters of the law. I will have mercy, and not sacrifice. The argument is that mercy toward these hungering disciples was more acceptable to God than sacrifices at the altar, though sacrifice was the crown of the Jewish rites. The quotation is from Ho 6:6, and is also quoted in Mt 9:13. It shows that all our forms, rites and ceremonies are worthless before God unless we have kind and merciful hearts.