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Bible Commentaries
Jonah 2

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-10

Chapter 2

Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly ( Jonah 2:1 ),

Jonah must have been a stubborn man indeed that he would wait three days and three nights before he would begin to pray. He was determined not to take the gospel to the Gentiles. He was determined not to go, sitting it out for three days and three nights.

Now he describes the conditions that he was in.

And he said, I cried by reason of my affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I ( Jonah 2:2 ),

He thought the conditions... he maybe even thought he died and gone to hell. After all, he was trying to run from God, and it was so hot, 98.6 if it were a whale and it's a mammal, so it has a 98.6 temperature, body temperature, beside the heat, the humidity that must have been inside that whale. The gastric juices sloshing around him, the seaweed wrapped around his head. "Out of my affliction, out of hell I cried,"

and you heard my voice. For you had cast me into the deep, into the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all of thy billows and thy waves passed over me ( Jonah 2:2-3 ).

It is interesting that most of his prayer can be found in the Psalms. Jonah evidently had a very good knowledge of the Psalms, because his entire prayer you can reference back in the Psalms. And that might be an interesting little project for you to take your concordance and reference Jonah's prayer. And he is jumping all over the Psalms in his prayer. It's too bad he didn't get to the hundred and thirty-ninth Psalm, and he could have saved himself problems to begin with, because he would know there is no way to escape from the presence of God. For in Psalm 139 , "If I take the wings of the morning and flee to the uttermost parts of the sea, even there You will lead me." Now he knew the Psalms. He knew them well, because he really quotes them in his prayer, but isn't it interesting how that so many times we overlook important things.

Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight [ Psalms 31:22 ]; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple ( Jonah 2:4 ).

You remember when Solomon was dedicating the temple he said, "Lord, if your people get in trouble, if they be taken captive by the enemy, if they be in a strange land or whatever, if they turn towards the temple and pray, then hear Thou from Thy place in heaven and answer their prayer and all." Now how he knew which direction the temple was I don't know. He surely had no sense of reference, but he turned in what he evidently thought was the direction of the temple to pray unto the Lord. You know he is going to cover all of his bases.

The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped around my head. I went down to the bottom of the mountains ( Jonah 2:5-6 );

This thing was sounding and going way down and no doubt would get dark, dark, dark, dark and then surfacing. Oh, what a miserable experience as this movement within. Probably seasick and just horrible.

the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came unto thee, into thine holy temple ( Jonah 2:6-7 ).

Now Jonah shares with you the valuable lesson that he learned. He learned it the hard way, but he shares it with you so that you can learn it the easy way.

They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercies ( Jonah 2:8 ).

If you are following after deception or after a lie, you're only making it hard on yourself and you're only running away from that which is best for you. It is a lie to think that you know better for your own life than does God. It is a lie for you to think that you can find happiness apart from God. It is a lie for you to think that you can escape from God, or from the call of God, or from the presence of God. And for you to attempt to do so you are only bringing misery and disaster upon yourself. You're forsaking your own mercy, because God is merciful, God is loving. And whatever God has in mind for you is the very best thing that could ever happen to you, though you may not think it. God may be calling you to something, and you are trying to run. And you think, "Oh, that's the last thing I want to do. I never want to do that." And you are trying to run, because you have this fear that to do what God is calling you to do will mean such deprivation and mean all of this, and you think "Oh, I can't do that. I don't want to do that." And you are trying to run from the call of God. Really you are running from what is the very best thing that could ever happen to you. If you are running from the will of God, trying to run from the will of God.

"They that observe these lying vanities are only forsaking their own mercies." You're creating your own hell, a misery in which you are going to find yourself sitting, and the misery is of your own making, and it is come from your own foolishness in thinking that you know better than God what is good for you. And yet, haven't we all been in that position in our lives?

When I think that I know better than God what will make me happy and what is good for me. And as I look back on those instances in my life, when I was observing these lying vanities, and when I had forsaken the path that God had set before me and I thought that I could find greater happiness and greater pleasure by leaving the path of God, I look back upon those experiences today and I realize they were the most miserable experiences of my entire life. The misery that I brought to myself and brought to others when I thought I knew better than God what would make me happy. And I created a hell in which I had to live until with David I confessed my sin before the Lord and received His forgiveness and His cleansing and the blotting out and was restored in fellowship with God. Oh, to be out of fellowship with God is hell itself. That is what hell is all about. It is out of fellowship with God. And to think of being out of fellowship with God eternally is unthinkable.

So he declares,

I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving ( Jonah 2:9 );

Now he couldn't offer a lamb or anything where he was. He could not build a fire and offer a sacrifice to God there in the whale, so he's gonna have to just be satisfied with offering to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving. This is the offering that we are encouraged to give to God in the New Testament in the book of Hebrews, to offer unto God the thanksgiving of praise unto Him, which is a sacrifice that is well accepted by Him.

I will pay that that I have vowed ( Jonah 2:9 ).

Evidently he said, "God, I give up. I'll go to Nineveh." So I'll pay that which I vowed.

And then the acknowledgment,

Salvation is of the LORD ( Jonah 2:9 ).

What an important lesson to learn for us, for you, for me. Salvation is not of my own works. It is not of my own efforts. I tried for a long time with my works and my efforts to be pleasing to God. Knowing about the little boy that had to leave Jesus outside when he went to the show, I didn't go to shows. And I was trying to be righteous in my own works. But what a glorious day when I learned the lesson that Jonah learned: salvation is of the Lord. I learned that after a lot of bitter experiences, bitter experiences of failure, trying to do what was right, unable to always do what was right, feeling this failure before God, living in this yo-yo Christian experience, up and down and up and down, great highs, tremendous lows. Until I came to the truth that Jonah discovered there in the whale-salvation is of the Lord, and I began to rest my salvation with Him. Oh, what a glorious day when I ceased from my labors and I entered into His rest. One of my most happy days in my whole Christian experience when God taught me this truth-salvation is of the Lord. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Jonah 2". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/jonah-2.html. 2014.
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