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A Psalm of Thanksgiving


Then Jonah prayed to the L ord his God from the belly of the fish, 2saying,

“I called to the L ord out of my distress,

and he answered me;

out of the belly of Sheol I cried,

and you heard my voice.


You cast me into the deep,

into the heart of the seas,

and the flood surrounded me;

all your waves and your billows

passed over me.


Then I said, ‘I am driven away

from your sight;

how shall I look again

upon your holy temple?’


The waters closed in over me;

the deep surrounded me;

weeds were wrapped around my head


at the roots of the mountains.

I went down to the land

whose bars closed upon me forever;

yet you brought up my life from the Pit,

O L ord my God.


As my life was ebbing away,

I remembered the L ord;

and my prayer came to you,

into your holy temple.


Those who worship vain idols

forsake their true loyalty.


But I with the voice of thanksgiving

will sacrifice to you;

what I have vowed I will pay.

Deliverance belongs to the L ord!”

10 Then the L ord spoke to the fish, and it spewed Jonah out upon the dry land.


Jonah therefore rightly adds, But I, with the voice of praise, will sacrifice to thee; as though he said While men as it were banish themselves from God, by giving themselves up to errors, I will sacrifice to thee and to thee alone, O Lord. And this ought to be observed by us; for as our minds are prone to falsehood and vanity, any new superstition will easily lay hold so us, except we be restrained by this bond, except we be fully persuaded, — that true salvation dwells in God alone, and every aid and help that can be expected by us: but when this conviction is really and thoroughly fixed in our hearts, then true religion cannot be easily lost by us: though Satan should on every side spread his allurements, we shall yet continue in the true and right worship of God. And the more carefully it behaves us to consider this passage, because Jonah no doubt meant here to strengthen himself in the right path of religion; for he knew that like all mortals he was prone to what was false; he therefore encouraged himself to persevere: and this he does, when he declares that whatever superstition men devise, is a deprivation of the chief good, even of life and salvation. It will hence follow, that we shall abominate every error when we are fully persuaded that we forsake the true God whenever we obey not his word, and that we at the same time cast away salvation, and every thing good that can be desired. Then Jonah says, I will sacrifice to thee with the voice of praise.

It must be noticed here farther, that the worship of God especially consists in praises, as it is said in Psalm 1:1: for there God shows that he regards as nothing all sacrifices, except they answer this end — to set forth the praise of his name. It was indeed his will that sacrifices should be offered to him under the law; but it was for the end just stated: for God cares not for calves and oxen, for goats and lambs; but his will was that he should be acknowledged as the Giver of all blessings. Hence he says there, ‘Sacrifice to me the sacrifice of praise.’ So also Jonah now says, I will offer to thee the sacrifice of praise, and he might have said with still more simplicity, “Lord, I ascribe to thee my preserved life.” But if this was the case under the shadows of the law, how much more ought we to attend to this, that is, — to strive to worship God, not in a gross manner, but spiritually, and to testify that our life proceeds from him, that it is in his hand, that we owe all things to him, and, in a word, that he is the Source and Author of salvation, and not only of salvation, but also of wisdom, of righteousness, of power?

And he afterwards mentions his vows, I will pay, he says, my vows. We have stated elsewhere in what light we are to consider vows. The holy Fathers did not vow to God, as the Papists of this day are wont to do, who seek to pacify God by their frivolous practices; one abstains for a certain time from meat, another puts on sackcloth, another undertakes a pilgrimage, and another obtrudes on God some new ceremony. There was nothing of this kind in the vows of the holy Fathers; but a vow was the mere act of thanksgiving, or a testimony of gratitude: and so Jonah joins his vows here with the sacrifice of praise. We hence learn that they were not two different things; but he repeats the same thing twice. Jonah, then, had declared his vow to God for no other purpose but to testify his gratitude.

And hence he adds, To Jehovah is, or belongs, salvation; that is, to save is the prerogative of God alone; Jehovah is here in the dative case, for prefixed to it is ל, lamed. It is then to Jehovah that salvation belongs; the work of saving appertains to no other but to the Supreme God. Since it is so, we see how absurd and insane men are, when they transfer praises to another, as every one does who invents an idol for himself. As, then, there is but the one true God who saves, it behaves us to ascribe to him alone all our praises, that we may not deprive him of his right. This is the import of the whole. It follows —

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