The exegesis of scene seven in 1 Samuel 1:21-23 enables us to make this Summary Statement: Hannah gives Samuel to God. The Summary Statement which is the meaning for the original audience will be converted into a Timeless Principle or meaning for our modern audience: Give to God your best and watch Him bless.
In scene seven, the answer is given to the question and conflict in scene six. In scene seven there are five lines of narration to prepare the reader for the all important seven lines of dialogue. There is a time and location change to help the reader identify the new scene. The narrator skips the three years of breast-feeding with one sentence: “And when she had weaned him.” The location change involves taking the child, Samuel, to the house of the LORD in Shilohwith three bulls to be offered in worship. One bull was a burnt offering which was sacrificed in fulfillment of a vow according to Num.15:3. The other bull was a purification offering sacrificed after childbirth according to Lev.12:6. The final bull could be offered with a meal offering accompanied by a drink offering where wine was poured out as prescribed in Num.15:4-11. Baldwin otes that Hannah and Elkanah gave the most expensive sacrifices the law allowed. “The choice of bulls when smaller animals would have been acceptable (Lv.12:6) is indicative of the gratitude of both Hannah and Elkanah.” The expensive sacrifices the narration has detailed also prepares the reader for the ultimate sacrifice Hannah is going to give to God as communicated in her final speech in verses 26-28.
Fokkelman explains Hannah’s speech as an oath that she utters to show the solemnity of her commitment to give Samuel to the LORD in full-time service as she had vowed. “In 26c the life of the priest is summoned as a witness to the oath.” The oath concludes in 28b where “the life of Samuel is that which is handed over and is the subject of the oath.” In between the introductory formula in 26c “as thy soul liveth” and the concluding line in 28b, which is the substance of the oath, “as long as he liveth he shall be dedicated to the LORD” is the background for the oath, and it is dominated by prayer, which mirrors Hannah’s life. Hannah reminds Eli in 26d, “I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD.” Three years earlier Hannah not only stood before the LORD to pray, but she stood up for herself before Eli who externally and falsely accused her of drunkenness. In 27a Hannah informs Eli of the subject for which she was praying when he misjudged her. “For this child I prayed.” Eli sees the answer to her prayer standing by her side. In 27b Hannah states “the LORD gave me the petition which I asked of him.” Four times, Hannah will repeat the word “asked” or “petition” in her concluding speech. In 28a Hannah informs Eli that what God had given to her she was now going to give “lent” back to the LORD. The word means “ask,” but it can also mean “give”as is does in Ex.12:35,36 and here in 1 Sam.1:28a. What Hannah vowed or promised in her first recorded words in v.11, she now swears by way of an oath to perform in her last recorded words in 28b. There was not going to be any taking back what she had given to the LORD.
In this last scene, Hannah in essence worships the LORD by first of all bringing three bulls to sacrifice to the LORD as the narrative report of scene seven depicts. Then as communicated through the dialogue of Hannah with Eli, Hannah has worships by sacrificing her son to full-time service in the LORD’s house. There is a debate who “he” refers to in the last statement of the story. Some say that “he” refers to Eli and that Hannah’s worship impacts Eli to worship. When Eli hears Hannah’s explanation in verses15,16, he perfunctorily pronounces a priestly benediction not knowing the significance of his pronouncement. But now that Eli has seen God providentially answer Hannah’s prayer, he falls down in worship of Hannah’s great prayer-answering Sovereign. Others, such as Charles Spurgeon, believe that “he” refers to Samuel, the antecedent in verses 26-28. Thus proving that Hannah had not only prepared herself to present Samuel to the LORD, Elkanah does not have to drag Hannah kicking and screaming to the temple, but she had prepared Samuel to willingly leave his beloved mother and father and turn and bow before the LORD and never turn back. Truly Hannah prepared Samuel to “there abide for ever” in his full-time service to the LORD. Hannah giving her son to full-time service is not only the solution to the new conflict raised by her husband when he doubted Hannah, but Hannah’s act of worship in giving her son is the solution and fitting conclusion to the entire narrative. Brueggemann captures the inductive conclusion of Samuel’s first narrative. “The resolution is glad worship (v. 28), a trusting yielding, which is Israel’s proper posture for the new story of monarchy now about to begin. Hannah’s ‘now therefore’ indicates the climax of the narrative and the resolution of the problem. Her offer of the boy is a faithful counterpart to her vow. Barrenness ends, by the power of God, in glad, trustful worship.” To summarize scene seven and the entire narrative is the following: Hannah’s unselfish worship of the LORD was the solution to her every conflict.