v1: We are introduced to Elkanah; a Levite by ancestry (1 Chr 6.34), of the family of Gershon, responsible for carrying the curtains and coverings and screens of the tabernacle (Num 4.22-28).
It was normal Jewish practice to list a person's ancestry, to entitle them to serve the Lord God.
Elkanah is called an Ephraimite because he lived in the hill country of Ephraim; originally the Gershonites had lived elsewhere, but doubtless they moved about.
v2-4: Elkanah had two wives, which at that time would have been acceptable. More important was his desire to worship and sacrifice to the Lord. This was his regular practice. He involved his whole family, as they went up to worship together.
v5-7: There was sorrow in the home. There should have been joy in a family worshipping God together, but Peninnah cruelly provoked Hannah. Putting God first in worship must affect our attitudes to others.
Hannah's sorrow is described; downhearted (v8), bitterness of soul (v10), she wept (v10); in her own words; misery (v11), deeply troubled (v15), great anguish and grief (v16).
v8: Elkanah loved Hannah, and gave her a double portion.
v9: The priest at the tabernacle was Eli. He was sitting down (as in 4.13), his eyes were dim (3.2), he was old and heavy (4.18). Although he was not wicked and corrupt like his sons, he was complacent, with a defeated spirit, and lacking authority. He was later rebuked for this attitude, 2.27-29.
v10: Hannah prayed to the Lord, for she could do nothing else. She poured out her soul to Him; if no man cares for my soul, I know that God does, and He will give comfort and consolation.
v11: Hannah made her promise to the Lord, 'If you will give me a son, then I will give him back to you'; her son would be totally dedicated to the Lord, as a Nazirite, but beyond the normal Nazirite vows, which were only for a limited time; her gift was "for all the days of his life".
v12-14: Eli's own cool devotion to God meant that he failed to recognise Hannah's deep experience.
v15-16: Hannah's response was a tearful explanation, not an angry reaction. She did not, however, share the details of her request with Eli.
Like Jabez (1 Chr 4.10) she had prayed in affliction; she had poured out her heart with deep emotion (Ps 62.8); she prayed at the tabernacle, the house of prayer (Is 56.7); she prayed in the name of the Lord (Ps 116.4); she drew near to God (Ps 73.28); and she was submissive (Luke 22.42), yet persistent (Luke 18.1).
There is a phrase, "until now", (in some versions) which suggests that her prayers had changed something. She had met with God and was different as a result; see v18.
v17: Eli, having realised that Hannah was prayerful, not drunk, blessed her.
v18: Hannah now ate food, and was no longer sad. Clearly, she had a sense of having received God’s promises.
v19: Hannah worshipped with her family. She had been blessed by God, and her family shared that blessing.
v20: Hannah's testimony that God had heard her prayer; her son always carried the testimony, "Because I asked the Lord for him."
v21-22: Elkanah continued to maintain his habit of regular worship. Hannah kept the young Samuel at home until he was weaned; then she would leave him at the tabernacle.
v23: Elkanah recognised his wife's godliness. He knew what God had done for Hannah, and trusted in God to fulfil His word.
v24-25: A sin offering was made, as was the custom at the birth of a child.
v26: Hannah identified herself as the woman who stood praying to the Lord; Was it so unusual that someone really prayed to the Lord? As at the time of Christ, there was but a small and faithful remnant.
v27-28: God had honoured His word, and Hannah was faithful to her word. The child Samuel was given to the Lord.