We will come across Eli later in the book, so we only need consider him briefly at present. He is an illustration of how low even genuine religion had become. He was a religious leader of God’s people. What does this passage highlight about him?
First, he was unable to discern a person in need of spiritual comfort. His words were cruel to a soul seeking the God he was attempting to serve. I suspect that is something a minister should dread being guilty of. Eli was guilty of judging by outward appearances, of speaking too quickly before he had discovered what was the burden of Hannah.
Second, he administered spiritual encouragement when he discovered that Hannah was praying. His words seem to have given assurance to Hannah that the Lord had heard her prayer. Here is another sign of the Lord’s grace; he will even use preachers who are not what they should be to bring spiritual blessing to others.