Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
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
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
in Jon 2:4,
in Jon 2:7,
Ps 142:3; 18:6;
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
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;
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"
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
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 prayers."
5. even to the soul--that is, threatening to extinguish the
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
"the foundations of the hills"
earth with her bars was about me--Earth, the land of the living, is
(not "was") shut against me.
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
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 dark prison-house.
into thine holy temple--the temple at Jerusalem
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
mercy--Jehovah, the very idea of whom is identified now in Jonah's
mind with mercy and loving-kindness. As the Psalmist
styles Him, "my goodness"; God who is to me all beneficence. Compare
"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
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 God.
9. I will sacrifice . . . thanksgiving--In the
believing anticipation of sure deliverance, he offers thanksgivings
already. So Jehoshaphat
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
10. upon the dry land--probably on the coast of Palestine.