Drawn from Leithart, page 40, Hannah starts as a symbol of Israel — her name means, ‘favored one,’ but how was she to be the favored one? She’s barren?! If she’s sonless, and Israel is ‘sonless,’ there’s no future for Israel. Genesis 3:15 promises a savior through the seed of the woman.
Elkanah’s whole family was a snapshot of Israel, the faithful remnant barren, while the rivalrous others were well-bred, well-fed, and a multitude. Hannah pours out her heart and seems to get nothing. Likewise, believers in churches today find themselves like Hannah. The faithful remnant is nothing compared to the corrupt leaders — “big churches, the big budgets, the big libraries” are all at Shiloh. “Peninnah seems to be the fruitful one, while Hannah remains barren.” (41)
‘Prayer was so rare at the Shiloh sanctuary Eli couldn’t recognize it when he saw it.’ And, interestingly he’s standing at the doorpost when he hears her prayer, a spot used plentifully in Hebrew literature. Sarah (whom Hannah is patterned off of) was standing near the doorway when she heard Abraham would have a son (Gen. 18:10). Israelites stained their doorposts in Egypt. Both symbolize new birth, or a change of status (slaves would have their ears pierced on the doorpost if they chose to remain a slave — Deut. 15:12-17).
Hannah’s promise she will receive a son extends broader to the nation of Israel. Against all odds, it is not hopeless. Her son samuel is born as one of three permanent Nazirites in the Bible: Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist. Samuel will prepare the way for first Saul, but then ultimately David — the Lord’s anointed. Hannah’s faithfulness here is not in vain, and neither should ours.