Why Was it More Lawful for Samuel to Offer Sacrifices than for Saul?


Was it really any more lawful for Samuel to offer sacrifices than for Saul? (1 Sam. 14, 15). If so, why was Saul condemned? Wasn’t the offering of sacrifices the duty of the priests?


Under the Law of Moses, offering sacrifices was one of the duties reserved for the priests, along with teaching the Law and conducting worship services (see Leviticus, chapters 1, 2, 3, 6).

Was it any more right for Samuel than for Saul? The genealogy of Samuel’s family in 1 Chronicles 6 shows that Samuel was a descendent of the Levite family of Kohath, therefore Samuel did have a right to act in the office of priest.

Also, there is evidence that Samuel filled the office of priest at other times. First Samuel 2:18 says that “Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with the linen ephod.” The linen ephod was a symbol of the priesthood. Years later, when Israel was troubled by the Philistines, Samuel prayed to God for the people and offered sacrifice, and the Lord heard (1 Sam. 7), and Samuel “built an altar to the Lord” at Ramah (1 Sam. 7:17).

Saul disobeyed the commandment of the Lord by not waiting for Samuel to return and offer the sacrifice. As a punishment, Samuel prophesied that God would take the kingdom from his family and give it to another who would be more worthy. When Saul was killed in battle, his sons died also, fulfilling the prophecy, and the kingship went to David and his lineage.