Jonah's Prayer of Faith and
1. his God—"his" still, though Jonah had
fled from Him. Faith enables Jonah now to feel this; just as the
returning prodigal says of the Father, from whom he had wandered, "I
will arise and go to my Father" (Lu 15:18).
out of the fish's belly—Every place
may serve as an oratory. No place is amiss for prayer. Others
translate, "when (delivered) out of the fish's belly." English
Version is better.
2. His prayer is partly descriptive and
precatory, partly eucharistical. Jonah incorporates with his own
language inspired utterances familiar to the Church long before in
2:2, Ps 120:1; in Jon 2:3,
Ps 42:7; in Jon 2:4, Ps
31:22; in Jon 2:5, Ps
69:1; in Jon 2:7,
Ps 142:3; 18:6; in Jon 2:8,
Ps 31:6; in Jon
2:9, Ps 116:17, 18, and 3:8.
Jonah, an inspired man, thus attests both the antiquity and inspiration
of the Psalms. It marks the spirit of faith, that Jonah identifies
himself with the saints of old, appropriating their experiences as
recorded in the Word of God (Ps 119:50).
Affliction opens up the mine of Scripture, before seen only on the
out of the belly of hell—Sheol,
the unseen world, which the belly of the fish resembled.
3. thou hadst cast … thy billows … thy
waves—Jonah recognizes the source whence his sufferings came.
It was no mere chance, but the hand of God which sent them.
Compare Job's similar recognition of God's hand in calamities, Job 1:21;
2:10; and David's, 2Sa
4. cast out from thy sight—that is, from
Thy favorable regard. A just retribution on one who had fled "from
the presence of the Lord" (Jon 1:3). Now that he has got his desire, he
feels it to be his bitterest sorrow to be deprived of God's presence,
which once he regarded as a burden, and from which he desired to
escape. He had turned his back on God; so God turned His back on him,
making his sin his punishment.
toward thy holy temple—In the
confidence of faith he anticipates yet to see the temple at Jerusalem,
the appointed place of worship (1Ki 8:38), and there to render thanksgiving
[Henderson]. Rather, I think, "Though
cast out of Thy sight, I will still with the eye of faith once
more look in prayer towards Thy temple at Jerusalem, whither, as
Thy earthly throne, Thou hast desired Thy worshippers to direct their
5. even to the soul—that is, threatening
to extinguish the animal life.
weeds—He felt as if the seaweeds
through which he was dragged were wrapped about his head.
6. bottoms of … mountains—their
extremities where they terminate in the hidden depths of
the sea. Compare Ps 18:7, "the
foundations of the hills" (Ps 18:15).
earth with her bars was about
me—Earth, the land of the living, is (not "was") shut against
for ever—so far as any effort of
mine can deliver me.
yet hast thou brought up my life from
corruption—rather, "Thou bringest … from the
pit" [Maurer]. As in the previous
clauses he expresses the hopelessness of his state, so in this, his
sure hope of deliverance through Jehovah's infinite resources. "Against
hope he believes in hope," and speaks as if the deliverance were
actually being accomplished. Hezekiah seems to have incorporated
Jonah's very words in his prayer (Isa 38:17), just as Jonah appropriated the
language of the Psalms.
7. soul fainted … I remembered the
Lord—beautifully exemplifying the triumph of spirit over
flesh, of faith over sense (Ps 73:26; 42:6). For a time troubles shut out hope; but
faith revived when Jonah "remembered the Lord," what a gracious God He
is, and how now He still preserves his life and consciousness in his
into thine holy temple—the temple at
Jerusalem (Jon 2:4). As
there he looks in believing prayer towards it, so here he regards his
prayer as already heard.
8. observe lying vanities—regard or
reverence idols, powerless to save (Ps 31:6).
mercy—Jehovah, the very idea of whom
is identified now in Jonah's mind with mercy and loving-kindness. As
the Psalmist (Ps 144:2)
styles Him, "my goodness"; God who is to me all beneficence. Compare
59:17, "the God of my mercy,"
literally, "my kindness-God." Jonah had "forsaken His own mercy," God,
to flee to heathen lands where "lying vanities" (idols) were
worshipped. But now, taught by his own preservation in conscious life
in the fish's belly, and by the inability of the mariners' idols to
lull the storm (Jon 1:5),
estrangement from God seems estrangement from his own happiness (Jer 2:13;
17:13). Prayer has been
restrained in Jonah's case, so that he was "fast asleep" in the midst
of danger, heretofore; but now prayer is the sure sign of his return to
9. I will sacrifice …
thanksgiving—In the believing anticipation of sure
deliverance, he offers thanksgivings already. So Jehoshaphat (2Ch 20:21) appointed singers to
praise the Lord in front of the army before the battle with Moab
and Ammon, as if the victory was already gained. God honors such
confidence in Him. There is also herein a mark of sanctified
affliction, that he vows amendment and thankful obedience (Ps 119:67).
10. upon the dry land—probably on the
coast of Palestine.