The prayer of Jonah. (1-9):
V. 1…belly of the fish… Jonah prayed a prayer of thanksgiving and explaining,
1. His near death experience at the bottom of the sea,
2. His prayer from the bottom of the sea, and
3. The saving grace of God.
We infer from this passage that Jonah prayed 2 prayers. One is at the bottom of the sea and another from the belly of the fish.
V. 2…out of the belly of Sheol I cried… Sheol is the inner part of the earth, the grave, away from God’s presence. Jonah was in a serious life-threatening and near death situation.
His trouble and his reaction (3 & 4).
V. 3…You cast me… Though he was thrown into the sea by the sailors, he recognizes the chastising hand and the will of God in that action. Read Psalm 39:9. This is recognizing the sovereignty of God. …heart of the sea…floods surrounded me…billows and
waves passed over me… This is his experience when he was cast into the sea.
V. 4…cast out of Your sight… He felt he was away from the sight of the LORD. …Yet I will look again towards Your Holy Temple… This is the Biblical Expression of looking towards God.
His deep distress and his reaction (5-7).
V. 5…surrounded me, even to my soul…weeds were wrapped around my head… Deep at the bottom of the sea, he saw himself at the threshold of death.
V. 6…down to the moorings… Moorings are the foundations of the mountains in the sea. …earth with it bars… the bars refer to the bar of the sheol gate. …pit… refers to the sheol. …brought up my life… After going through a helpless and hopeless situation, Jonah recognized the salvation and redemption only by God and His grace.
V. 7…soul fainted…remembered the LORD…prayer went up… We need to remember the LORD and His saving power, when we are hopeless and pray unto Him.
V. 8…vain idols… idols are empty things, and only God who created heaven and earth is the grace giver.
V. 9…sacrifice…with the voice of thanksgiving… Jonah had a sense of redemption and gave thanks while he was still in the belly of the fish. Belly of the fish is safer than the belly of Sheol. …salvation… The mercy, the steadfast love of God is revealed in Jonah’s deliverance. God is the sovereign source of salvation.
He is delivered from the fish. (10):
…LORD spoke…and it vomited… At the command of God, fish vomited Jonah on the shore.
Jonah 1 & 2 teaches us…
1. The authority of God over all men (Sailors), sea, wind, bottom of the sea (sheol), and fish.
2. The salvation belongs to God, and He has the power over the Sheol and the threshold (Gates) of death/hell.
Jonah recommissioned to Nineveh. (1-4)
V. 1…second time… Jonah was commissioned by God again to go to Nineveh. God is determined to get the message to Ninevites. He did not give up on Jonah. The LORD will not give up until we give up.
V. 2…preach to it the message that I tell you… The second part is little different from the original commissioning in 1:2 in which God said, “…cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.”
V. 3…exceedingly great city… It is an important city for Assyrians. Also, it is important to God and God cared for that city (4:11). Though Nineveh was not the capital city during Jonah’s time, it was a major city. If the capital city repents, it is a sign of national repentance. If the capital city fails and falls in sin, it is a sign of national disobedience. See the map on the next page.
V. 4…yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”… This message sounds like an unconditional one. A time frame of 40 days implies that the Ninevites had 40 days to repent. When people repent, God relents (Jeremiah 18:7 & 8).
Nineveh is spared upon the repentance of the inhabitants. (5-10):
V. 5…believed God… They were so quick to act without any debate or more warnings. Fast… signifies feeling sorry, and denying themselves. …Sackcloth… rough clothes, like jute bag were used in Ancient Near East to demonstrate mourning. …Ashes… signifies one recognizing his end-state.
Vs. 6-8…king of Nineveh… He was not the king of Assyria, but king for the city. …decree of the kings… The fasting and mourning was by the decree of king. Verse 5 & 6 infers us that the fasting and repentance was spontaneous by both king and people.
Vs. 9 & 10…God relented from the disaster that He had said… It was not Jonah’s intention or expectation to see the repentance of the people. God’s message of judgment always has the intent of repentance and reconciliation. In Nineveh the work of the Holy Spirit, which is to bring conviction was done in a powerful manner in this instance.