The exegesis of scene three enables us to make this Summary Statement: The solution to Hannah’s problem of barrenness is selfless prayer. The Summary Statement which is the meaning for the original audience will be converted into a Timeless Principle or meaning for our modern audience: Our solution for the barrenness of leadership is selfless prayer.
The third scene begins the middle part of the plot. In scene three the iterative is over, and the punctual events begin that lead to the solution of the conflict introduced in the beginning of the plot.
The first six lines of scene three reveal Hannah rising and taking the initiative to do something about her problem. In v.9a, Hannah rises and takes the initiative while, by way of contrast, in v.9b Eli the priest sits passively on his seat. Eli was passive physically and spiritually unto the day of his death in 4:13 where he is still sitting on a seat.
A chiasmus in the next four lines shows that Hannah took the initiative to pray.
10a Hannah is bitter in her soul
10b and prayed unto the LORD
10c and wept sore
11a and she vowed a vow
Even though Hannah is bitter in her soul and is weeping, she prays and vows a vow to the LORD. Hannah is taking the initiative even though her circumstances are no better. The “bitterness” of Hannah reminds the reader of the bitterness of righteous Job, who also suffered undeservedly (Job 3:20; 7:11; 10:1; 21:25).
The next six lines give the content of her positive “vow”. The protasis or the conditional subordinate clause begins with “if” and is translated “if” or “since” God will “give unto thine handmaid a man child.” The apodosis or the conclusion of the conditional clause begins with “Then.” Hannah’s promise is two-fold. First, Hannah promises that she will give her son to the LORD in life long service. As a Levite, Samuel would be serving in the temple periodically from the age of 25 to 50 years of age according to Num. 8:24-25. Hannah promises that the son which the LORD gives her will serve the LORD all his life and all the time. The second part of Hannah’s double vow is the Nazarite vow found in Num. 6. This abstinence vow promised that the person would be “separate” from worldly influence and would refrain from all adult beverages and contact with the dead. Not only would that consecrated person be separate from worldly influence, but he would be separated to the LORD. Therefore, Hannah mentioned only that “there shall no razor come upon his head.” As Samson demonstrated, the uncut hair was a symbol of life and strength from the LORD.
Hannah’s surrender of the son she knows the LORD is going to give her is unparalleled. Abraham, who also waited so long for his promised son, was commanded by God to surrender him and was willing to do so, but God intervened and spared Isaac. But Hannah did not spare her son. She gave him to the LORD all the days of his life. God takes the initiative with Samson’s mother in Judg. 13 and makes her the beneficiary of Samson who also was to be separated all his life (1 Sam.1:11g is identical to Judg.13:5). But Hannah is the one who takes the initiative and makes God the beneficiary in 1 Samuel 1. There is one surrender, however, that is greater than Hannah’s. God spared not His son who, unlike Abraham’s son, Isaac, was sinless (Rom.8:32). Unlike Samson’s mother, God took the initiative to give His son, not just before his birth as Hannah did but before the foundation of the world. The summary statement of scene three: The solution to Hannah’s problem of barrenness is Hannah’s selfless prayer.