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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Jonah 2

Verses 1-10

Renewed Confidence

Jonah 2:4

The Prophet is a picture of the backslider, of the man who has somehow failed to fulfil his vows of obedience and loyalty to God. Sometimes it is by reason of cowardice when confronted by duty, as in the case of Jonah; or again, by wilful sin when compelled to choice, as in the case of Judas; or yet again by neglect when enjoined by the necessities of the case as well as by the Divine Word to wholeheartedness, as with Peter, that men depart from God. No experience of life is less disputed than the difficulty of maintaining attitudes of obedience and faithfulness to spiritual vows. There are few who do not continually run the risk or becoming cast-away, and each of us needs grace not only to serve God, but to serve Him with fear. For even in the slightest defection from the plain path of His will, there lurks the certain power of eventually putting infinite distance between the soul and God. It is a solemn fact, too, that God's love, despite its strength and long-suffering, may eventually be conquered by man's sin and negligence, of which the beginning may be but trifling and insignificant. Hence the history of Jonah's fall and repentance is full of meaning to us all.

I. 'I am cast out of Thy sight' thus he speaks when he is at last brought by adversity of circumstance to recognize his own mistake. Hitherto he has lost the sense of sin just because he has lost the sense of God, for these two are ever simultaneous processes. The extremity of need into which tie Prophet has been brought has, however, brought him to a knowledge of his sin and has also produced a longing for restoration.

II. The same providential ordering which produces this sense of need and sin also creates hope. The knowledge that God is taking note inspires the wandering soul to say, 'Yet I will look again'. And here the memory of his former looking to the Lord is an encouraging impulse. Nothing was then seen but mercy and love, pity and pardon. And He is still the unchanged Lord. Jonah has found no evil in God at any time, and past experience assures him of the full welcome which awaits the repentant and returning soul. 'I will look again,' for, though far away by his own transgressions, the unfaithful servant is not beyond His help. What courage may we not gather from these words, and from this history of the disobedient messenger! However and wherever we have failed, we need not be hopeless so long as there is in us a God-created consciousness of sin and a willingness to return. The feeblest spark of desire for restoration has been kindled by the fire of His love, and conscience and memory unite in constraining us to 'look again' unto Him who is both Author and Finisher of our faith. And His restoring grace is not limited to a sevenfold experience, nor to an experience repeated seventy-fold!

J. Stuart Holden, The Pre-Eminent Lord, p. 171.

References. II. 4. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxx. No. 1813. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. iii. p. 172. II. 7. Ibid. vol. iii. p. 179. II. 8. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Ezekiel, Daniel, and the Minor Prophets, p. 184. J. Duncan, The Pulpit and the Communion Table, p. 307. II. 9. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iii. No. 131. III. Ibid. vol. xliii. No. 2544. III. 1, 2. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. ixi. p. 187. III. 1-10. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scrip-lure Ezekiel, Daniel, and the Minor Prophets, p. 189. III. 4. A. G. Mortimer, One Hundred Miniature Sermons, vol. i. p. 216. III. 4, 5, 10. R. E. Hutton, The Crown of Christ, vol. i. p. 303.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Jonah 2". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/jonah-2.html. 1910.