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IN THE DEEP.—Chap. 2
As soon as the prophet was entombed, he knew that he was in a living grave. Then began that new and bitter experience recorded in the prayer of this chapter. We have no external history of those days. But we have a very intense and clear history of his inward life. Speaking generally, there was evidently a great and sudden quickening of consciousness. The man who speaks in this holy psalm hardly seems the same person whom we have seen in flight—dark, moody, silent, despairing. Beneath the waves the whole man reveals himself to God. Men rescued from drowning have told of quickened consciousness in danger—how they have lived again through years of past moments, estimated possible means of escape, and pierced with anticipative thought into the two possible futures—that of time, and that of eternity. Then rapidly this new consciousness became distressful. His soul fills itself fuller than the sea with “affliction.” The reserved sorrow of sinning comes all at once. If sinners knew the fruitage of their ungodliness, what the universe would be when Divine presence is darkened out of them, and what the bitterness of that moment when the soul awakes in the thought, “God is now away, perhaps for ever,” they would stay the beginnings of departure as men keep back from a slippery precipice. Then he began to “look”—upwards to earth, eastwards to the temple, where he knew that the lost presence was richly manifested. This is one of the most characteristic acts of faith—to look, although death may come in the looking. This is a tough battle. It is hard to fight aboveground; but to fight as deep as ever plummet sounded, where stretches the shadow of death, is grand. The look soon became a cry. It may have been literally a vocal cry. The voice was much used by Jews in gladness, sorrow, and worship—especially by great and impassioned souls. This may have been Jonah’s habit on land, the means of preserving his life in the deep, and may have so acted upon the sensations of his submarine custodian as to induce at length the disgorgement. But it was the cry of the soul, which rose from farthest depths in one instant, without injuring natural law, above all heights, to the primal springs of power and earthly providence. He began to be grateful. Some measure of gratitude mingled with his distress from the first, but as he felt himself still alive as time rolled on, then would come a feeling of thankfulness. There was daybreak in the land of the shadow of death. Then, apparently, his soul passed into a more active state of renewed personal consciousness to God. Religious thankfulness nearly always grows into that. The voice of thanksgiving begins with the act of sacrifice. Vows when truly made are paid. The prophet resolved “I will”; acted when deliverance came. The final state of his mind—that into which all other feelings subside and resolve themselves—is a state of entire dependence, involving a quiet and trustful surrender of himself to God. I have done all I can, need not cry any more. If God will accept me for active service I shall be delivered. If not, I shall trust in him: “Salvation is of the Lord” [Raleigh].
CRITICAL NOTES. Prayed] Really praised. His] not only to Jehovah as the sailors did. “He shows his faith by adoring Him as his God” [Burk], The structure of this hymn, composed like many Psalms, and filled with allusions to them, falls into three strophes (Jonah 2:4; Jonah 2:6; Jonah 2:8): each of which rises from distress to deliverance and hope [cf. Lange].
Jonah 2:2. Cried] More definite than Psalms 16:1; Psalms 120:1. Belly] Womb of Sheol, i.e. the peril of death; snares of death (Psalms 18:5); deliverance out of Sheol (Psalms 30:3).
Jonah 2:3. Deep] abyss (Psalms 42:7). Midst] Heart of the seas, in the fathomless depth, away from the shores. Floods] The stream or current of the sea which sweeps along, as Psalms 24:2. Waves] from Strâbăr, to break; thy breakers and thy billows roll. “Thy billows, because he felt in his conscience that the sea with its waves and billows was the serv. ant of God and of his wrath to punish sin” [Luther].
Jonah 2:4. Said] in my heart, i.e. I thought that I was banished from thy protection and care (Psalms 31:23). Look] Lit. look intently, an assurance that he will yet appear in the temple to praise God (Psalms 5:8).
PRAYER AND DISTRESS.—Jonah 2:1-4
Jonah now describes his mournful and dismal condition. Let us notice his sorrows, prayers, and hopes.
I. The great distress. “I cried by reason of my distress.”
1. Distress in the deep. Pharaoh’s army sank into the deep; and the sea is often as the grave. (a) Into the heart of the seas, far away from the shores, and down into the fathomless bottom. (b) Encircled by the floods. “The floods have compassed me” (cf. Psalms 46:3; Psalms 69:1-2; Psalms 88:6). (c) Swept by the billows. The broken surges and mountain-billows rolled over his head. Sin casts into darkness and dismal gulfs. The punishment of God is often intense, but love is seen in it all. “Thy waves.”
2. Distress in Sheol. “From the belly of hell.” His confinement was like the lower world, the region of ghosts. But no abyss of grief is beyond Divine help. God can keep alive and deliver from the pit. “O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave, thou hast kept me alive that I should not go down to the pit.”
3. Distress away from God’s presence. “I am driven out of thy sight.” This was the worst of all, yet only a just retribution for one who had fled from the presence of God. Jonah’s sin, and the Divine judgment upon it, pierced his soul, darkened his prospect, and led him to despair. Hope of deliverance for body or soul seemed no longer cherished. But man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. Bradford said the prison can be made the palace of the Great King. Seek to be near God, and feel distressed at distance which is (a) a penal consequence of sin; (b) a sad complaint with God’s people. “Why standest thou afar off, O Lord?”
II. The earnest prayer. Sorrows within, around, and above him, led him to cry out to God. The Church is indebted for its best men, and the world for its best sayings, to affliction. Many of God’s children have first prayed by reason of distress. Backsliders have been reclaimed, and prayers quickened into cries, by poignant grief.
1. Its intensity. “I cried.” Prosperity tends to negligence, formality, and deadness in prayer; distress makes it earnest and ardent (James 5:13). “Many, silent with their lips, have cried aloud with their heart,” says Augustine. “Many, noisy with their lips, could, with heart turned away, obtain nothing.”
2. Its directness. “Unto Jehovah, and Jehovah as his God” (Jonah 2:1). Away from himself, and up to the throne of the Eternal, were his confidence and desire fixed. He was yet the servant of God, linked to him by past discipline and future hope. The covenant of God stands firm, and brighter than stars does it shine in the depths of sorrow. “This God is our God.”
3. Its place. “The fish’s belly.” What an oratory! No place is amiss for prayer. The wilderness and the den, the prison, and “the belly of hell. The voice of a child is heard wherever he cries in distress. “Call upon me in the day of trouble,” &c.
3. Its language. Most of its expressions are found in the Psalms. It is well to be conversant with Scripture, which gives consolation and aids devotion in all circumstances. Our prayers would be more refreshing to others, and more acceptable to God, if offered in words of inspiration.
4. Its speed. “Thou heardest my voice.” God, who cast him down, lifted him up; inspired his heart, and answered his petition. God had called upon Jonah, and often calls to us, without response. But when we turn in penitence and prayer to him he listens. There is a voice in faith and prayer which God quickly hears, for “he delighteth in mercy.”
“Prayer ardent opens heaven” [Young].
REVIVED FEELING.—Jonah 2:4
By degrees Jonah gained strength to hope and pray. His despondency was only momentary. A ray of light pierced the darkness, and blessed his heart. “I will look again,” &c. Learn—
I. That a servant of God may be overcome with fear. Not only assaulted with temptation and despair, but overcome by them for a time. Men change in feeling, rejoice to-day, and doubt to-morrow. Light and darkness alternate in the spiritual as in the natural world. But resist temptation, seek to gather strength, and look again. “Cast not away, therefore, your confidence.”
II. That the weakest act of faith may be mighty in overcoming fear. Faith in God will sustain us in extremest sufferings, and find a way in greatest impediments. To remain in unbelief, rest under the waves, or trust in anything but the promise, is folly. Jonah looked not at probabilities, at things as they really were, but with fixed eye toward the holy temple. His faith pierced the darkness, and pictured the mercy-seat and the Divine presence. A true retrospect of God’s house will tinge the present with hope, and dissipate the clouds that darken our horizon. “All things are possible to him that believeth.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES
Jonah 2:2. The affliction.
1. Its acknowledged source. Neither himself nor the mariners were considered. All comes from God. “Thou hast cast me into the deep.” “Thy waves,” &c. “It was not you, but God, that sent me here.”
2. Its benevolent design. Design there was, and that design not malevolent. “God is love.” He does not afflict willingly, but for our future good and his glory.
“Now let us thank the Eternal Power, convinced
That heaven but tries our virtue by affliction:
That oft the cloud which wraps the present hour,
Serves but to brighten all our future days.”
Jonah 2:2-3. The right use of the Psalter. Even holy men of God, who were partakers of the Holy Ghost, have not refused to appeal to, and to cite formally, the books of Scripture, which existed already in their time. A strong argument for the authority of the Holy Scriptures [Lange].
“One woe doth tread upon another’s heel,
So fast they follow” [Shakespeare].
“Thus woe succeeds woe, as wave a wave.” [Herrick.]
1. A determination to remember God in future.
2. An expression of encouragement derived from displays of Divine providence and mercy. “God gave him no hope save that he preserved him alive. For he seemed to himself forsaken of God. Wonderful pattern of faith which gains strength even from God’s seeming desertion” [Pusey].
Again, past experience in God’s house.
1. When improved, (a) A source of comfort in distress, (b) A ground of hope for future blessings.
2. When abused, (a) Taken an evidence of present grace. (b) Made an excuse for further effort. If you have not force enough to contemplate God in heaven, try again by fresh exercises of faith and prayer; you may be refreshed with a more excellent view and better hope than Moses had on Nebo’s summit. The hasty conclusion. “Then I said, I am cast out.” I. Its cause.
1. Consciousness of guilt.
2. Calamity interpreted as visitations of God. II. Its folly. God reproves, and often severely, but never casts away his children. When we speak in haste we do not consider. Our minds are then disturbed, and we distrust God. (Cf. David, 1 Samuel 27:1; Psalms 21:2.) “Hasty words,” says one, “are but for a moment on the tongue, but they often lie for years on the conscience.” The mischief of hasty conclusions is great. “Waters flowed over mine head; then I said, I am cut off. I called upon thy name, O Lord, out of the low dungeon.”
Jonah 2:5] This strophe opens like the first, sets forth the peril of death, and describes the thought of miraculous deliverance. Surrounded] Pressed even to the soul (Psalms 69:2; Psalms 18:5). Weeds] Sea-weeds, vast quantities of which were found in the Mediterranean, were bound about his head “like a grave band. A peril even to the strong swimmer, entangling him the more he struggles to extricate himself. But to one below, powerless to struggle, it was as his winding-sheet” [Pusey].
Jonah 2:6. Bottoms] Cuttings off, ends or extremities, hence foundations (cf. Psalms 18:7-15). It seemed as if the earth itself formed the vault, the living coffin into which he was shut up (Deuteronomy 3:5; Job 38:10). “The bolts of the sea are the walls of the sea-basin, which set bounds to the sea that it cannot pass over” [Keil]. Corruption] Lit. the pit (Isaiah 38:17; Job 17:4).
THE HORRIBLE PIT.—Jonah 2:5-6
The prophet again enlarges on his terrible and apparently hopeless condition, reviews the awful deep from whence he was delivered, and admires the power of God in his salvation.
I. The depth of the pit. The poet or the painter can add nothing to the description here given of the prisoner in the deep. He was cast down into a dark, fearful dungeon, amid horrible gloom and rushing torrents. Forgotten of mankind; confined in anguish and hell. Sin always casts men into extremity and death.
II. The dangers of the pit. His peril was imminent. The terrors of the Almighty, the elements of nature, set themselves in array against him.
1. He was encompassed by waters. Excluded from the atmosphere and light on the surface, he felt almost suffocated beneath the waves. His very soul was submerged, and pressed by the floods so that life was almost extinct. “Encompassed me even to the soul.”
2. He was barred by the earth. He was carried to the base of the rocks, the roots of the mountains, whose summits overtopped the waves.
3. He was enclosed in the deep. “The deep closed me in.” He could sink no lower, and it was impossible to rise higher. He was confined on all sides. Earth and sea formed the vault within which he was for ever shut.
4. He was wrapped round with sea-weeds. The alga or weed was bound about his head, and made it like a state of death or living corruption. “As the monster within which he was caverned glided through the vast submarine forests, they seemed to enclose him in their green and slippery coverts, or portions of sea-weed, swallowed by the fish, wrapped itself around him.”
III. The deliverance from the pit. “Thou hast brought up my life.” His rescue was like a resurrection of the body, and displayed the grace and power of Jehovah. God delivered him from sufferings described and recorded when he was on dry land. His soul also was recovered to true penitence, and the light of God’s countenance. He could now say, “O Lord, my God.” “A sweet renewed sense of pardoning love is often the pleasant shore on which we step out of the deep mire of our sorrowful troubles.”
IV. The gratitude to the deliverer. It is a good thing to give thanks to God for blessings received. It is common with God to deliver when nobody else can. Every mercy is the expression of a thought, the manifestation of a purpose. God’s mercies are innumerable, and must be publicly acknowledged to quicken our own hearts and those of others (Isaiah 38:17). “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings” (Psalms 40:2-3).
HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES
Jonah 2:5. Trials like water. Deep, heavy, and overwhelming. It is sad to be perfectly sensible of your situation, yet not able to do anything for relief; to struggle, and become more fettered by the effort.
1. This deliverance was, humanly speaking, most unlikely.
2. It was highly benevolent. “Brought up my life.” It was a treasure beyond all price that was restored to the prophet.
3. It was Divinely wrought. “Yet hast thou.”
4. It was recognized and appreciated by Jonah. “O Lord, my God.” These words are full of meaning, and express the faith and joy of the Prophet [Exell].
Jonah 2:5-6. Bringing up and preservation. Two great blessings traced to the hand of God, and prompting to gratitude on account of the evils described.
Jonah 2:7. Fainted] Heb. to cover one’s self or to veil, then to sink, to pine away: Rem. the triumph of faith over sense. Temple] from which prayers are heard (Psalms 42:6; Psalms 73:26).
REMEMBRANCE OF GOD.—Jonah 2:7
Jonah continues his reflections, and calls to mind his past experience in the deep.
I. Remembrance of God an antidote to fainting. Men faint through heat, thirst, and exhaustion; but the worst fainting is in the mind (Hebrews 12:3). If the mind keeps strong we can bear up, but if that gives way we succumb to sorrow. Natural infirmities, trouble and temptation, may overcome the stoutest. The soul is filled with doubt, the heart grows weak, and faints away. Above all, guilt brings fear and drives away God, and casts dark shadows over our path. But if we are humble and turn to God in our despondency our souls will revive, and hope will dawn in regions of despair. Remembrance of (a) God’s power, (b) God’s promise, and (c) God’s readiness to save, will renew our strength. “God will help and that right early.”
II. Remembrance of God a stimulant to prayer. “And my prayer came unto thee.” Much depends upon what men look at in trouble. According to the object in view will be the direction of the thoughts. Some look at their situation, with its attendant evils, and faint. Others trust to wrong sources for help, and are disappointed. But remembrance of God will invigorate faith, and prompt to prayer. Constant thoughts of God would make life more devout and successful. Continual prayer to him would secure his presence, and turn the depths of death into a temple of praise.
III. Remembrance of God a proof of God’s remembrance of us. When we truly remember and pray to God in sorrow, it is an evidence that we are not forsaken by him. The spirit of prayer is given to be cultivated, and offered to him in hearty petitions. No greater mercy can we have in trial than to be kept prayerful and dependent upon God. Contrite prayer and enjoyment of God’s favour are closely connected. Let us not forget God whatever else is forgotten.
Jonah 2:8.] When prayer reaches to God he helps and saves. Salvation is only from Him. Idolaters forfeit their mercy. Observe] Lit. regard, hold to, an intensive form: “pay deference to court, sue vanity of vanities, vain things which prove ruin at last” [Pusey]. Mercy] Lit. their goodness, i.e. God, their Benefactor, the Author of all mercies (Psalms 144:2).
Jonah 2:9. I will] The vow of a pious man as opposed to the life of apostates. As the mariners ended their sacrifice with vows, so Jonah ends his prayer with thanksgiving. Sal.] Lit. a mighty salvation (an intensive form) which God gives to his people after affliction, “is wholly His; all belongs to Him, so that none can share in bestowing it” [Pusey].
Jonah 2:10. Spake] His uttered voice produces everything. In heaven, earth, and sea, all things submit to him. Land] Probably the coast of Palestine. This circumstance typical of a more wonderful event, when death will be swallowed up of victory (Isaiah 26:19; 1 Corinthians 15:54).
THE MORAL CONTRASTS IN LIFE.—Jonah 2:8-9
Jonah now expresses his feelings in sacrifice and praise, resolves to lead a new life, and pay his vows to God. This conduct stands in marked contrast to the ungodly who forget God, and forsake their own interests.
I. God is the highest good of men. What is the chief good of humanity has been the problem of ages, the aim of all religion and philosophy. Many have been the theories concerning it; but the declaration of God’s word decides the question.
1. God is the supreme good in himself. David calls him, my goodness (Psalms 144:2), my kindness or benignity; the God of my mercy (Psalms 59:17). What is comprehended in the summum bonum of man—wisdom and justice, beauty and love—belong to him. He is the infinite excellence and the ultimate good of all men.
2. God is the source of goodness to others. He is good in himself, and his tender mercies are over all his works. He is the source and fountain of all our enjoyments. When he relieves the miserable it is mercy; when he bestows favour upon the unworthy it is grace; when he supplies the indigent it is bounty. God’s mercy includes all the forms of his kindness shown to men; whether considered as creatures, as sinners, or as believers. “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.”
II. The wicked forsake God, their highest good.
1. This conduct is wilful. God does not forsake them. They voluntarily forsake him, and therefore should not blame him. Examples warn, hindrances check them, but they go on. In opposition to light and known results they obstinately choose death rather than life.
2. This conduct is injurious. “They forsake their own mercy.” They take nothing from God, but rob themselves of natural enjoyments, Divine favour which is better than life, and commit moral suicide. Sinners put God from them, who would be their life, and destroy themselves (Hosea 13:9). “He that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul; all they that hate me love death.”
3. This conduct is foolish. “They observe lying vanities.” They forsake the true for the false.
(1) Idols are vanities. The gods of the heathen, or the idols of modern days, are empty and vain. The worship of mammon and the desire of fame, the gods of intellect and superstitions, are worthless things.
(2) Idols are lying vanities. They are both vanity and falsehood. They deceive by vain show, and in the end disappoint.
(3) Yet men observe idols. They guard and love them, depend upon them, and pursue them with eagerness. Falsehood can neither feed the mind nor calm the conscience. Everything apart from God is vanity and lies. “O ye sons of men, how long will ye love vanity?”
III. The righteous serve God, their highest good. The grace that had called forth prayer now ends in praise. Jonah vows, and pays his vows.
1. They offer thanksgiving to God. “The voice of praise.” When we drink of the stream we should lift up our head to heaven. The least mercies are great when viewed as coming from God. Let this be felt, then we shall enjoy them, and gladly offer the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Our gratitude will be (a) sincere, (b) devout, and (c) continual. “Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually; that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name.”
2. They dedicate their lives to God. They renew their vows, and bind their treacherous heart the faster to God and duty. Jonah was ready to go and preach at Nineveh, or serve God anywhere, now. God’s loving correction had made him great and bold. Let our oath of allegiance be renewed in every deliverance from trouble. Do not show coldness and ingratitude, which sense of duty and natural shame allow not to an earthly benefactor. Our future life should be a hymn of praise and a living sacrifice. Let the power derived from discipline, the gratitude prompted by mercy, be practical and abiding. “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me; and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES
Jonah 2:8. Such were actual idols in which men openly professed that they trusted. Such are all things in which men trust out of God. One is not more vain than another. All have this common principle of vanity. It is, then, one general maxim, including all men’s idols—idols of the flesh, idols of intellect, idols of ambition, idols of pride, idols of self and self-will. Men observe them as gods; watch them, hang upon them, never lose sight of them, guard them as though they could keep them. But what are they? Lying vanities; breath and wind which none can grasp or detain, vanishing like air into air. And what do they who so observe them? All alike forsake their own mercy, i.e. God, whose property is always to have mercy, and who would be mercy to them if they wanted [Pusey].
Jonah 2:9. Praise. It must be noticed here that the worship of God especially consists in praises, as it is said in Psalms 50:0; for there God shows that he regards as nothing all sacrifices except they answer this end—to set forth the praise of his name [Calvin].
Sacrifice. Now to offer a sacrifice at such a confession or thanksgiving added much to the solemnity thereof; and made it more honourable in itself and more acceptable to God [Trapp].
Vow. The Hebrew word seemeth to imply two things: First, that his vow till paid was incomplete; it was an imperfect thing; the better part of it was yet wanting. Next, till that were done he could not be at peace within himself; for vows are debts; and debts till they be paid are a burden to an honest mind, and do much disease it [Ibid.].
SALVATION OF THE LORD.—Jonah 2:9
By salvation here we do not understand Jonah’s deliverance from death merely. Dr Gill says there is something so special in the original, the word having one more letter than it usually has when it only refers to temporal deliverance, that we must understand it here as relating to the great work of the soul, which endureth for ever. That salvation I shall try to show as best I can.
I. Expound the doctrine that salvation is of Jehovah. To begin at the beginning, the plan of salvation is entirely of God. And as in planning, so it was of the Lord in execution. Salvation, in the application of it, is from God. As to the sustaining of the work in a man’s heart, salvation is of the Lord.
II. God has hedged this doctrine about to prevent mistake. Some say, salvation in some cases is the result of natural temperament. Others, that the minister converts them. God takes care that salvation is not of man, for usually he blesses those who seem most unlikely to be useful.
III. What is, what should be, the influence of this doctrine upon men? First, with sinners this doctrine is a great battering-ram against their pride. What influence upon the saint? Why, it is the keystone of all Divinity. I will defy you to be heterodox if you believe it; proud, if you feel it, you cannot be. You will not be distrustful. You may always be joyful if you keep it in mind. This may, by grace, nerve you to work for God. Go and preach the gospel everywhere, recollecting that God is more than a match for man’s sin; and will ye be master over the earth? [Spurgeon].
THE GREAT DELIVERANCE.—Jonah 2:9-10
These words were the result of recent experience, penned in grateful feeling, and adapted to all ages.
I. The inestimable blessing. “Salvation.”
1. Its magnitude. In the intensive form it denotes a mighty salvation. The force of the Hebrew may include temporal and eternal salvation. Jonah’s deliverance was unknown in history, unparalleled in God’s dealings with men. God’s power is drawn out by the emergencies of his people, often reserved for great occasions, and unlimited in its nature. “So great a salvation” is offered in Christ, that men should receive it and glorify him.
2. Its fulness. It was a complete salvation. Jonah was not left in the deep, nor sent to the surface to swim to land. The fish vomited out and cast him on dry land. He was left in no danger, but enjoyed a perfect rescue. “His work is honourable and glorious.”
II. The Divine source from which it comes. “Salvation is of the Lord.” It is wholly his; and not part his, and part ours. It is specially and peculiarly his. It belongs to him, and no other. Hence understand the words,
1. Affirmatively. “To Jehovah be ascribed salvation.” “Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever.”
2. Negatively. There is salvation from no other source. “Beside me there is no Saviour.”
III. The wonderful method of its accomplishment. God “spake unto the fish.” Some deny an active will and a personal presence in nature. They recognize nothing but matter and force. All creatures are controlled by law and instinct, say they. But Creation is subject to God’s will. A fish was prepared for Jonah, and at the bidding of Jehovah it disgorged him. Hence, notice—
1. The power of God over all creatures. The beasts of the field, and the fish of the sea; “all cattle, creeping things, and flying fowl,” are governed by him.
2. The ease with which God governs all creatures. He has only to speak—the world is created, the storm is stilled, and the dead are raised. In heaven above, and in the remotest bounds of space, the highest archangel and the smallest atom, hearken and obey the voice of God.
3. The times in which God accomplishes his purpose in reference to all creatures. The time of the prophet’s deliverance was come, and the sea-monster in whose belly he had traversed the deep, could not retain him. With unerring precision it bore him through the trackless ocean to the destined shore. Events are subservient to God, and at his pleasure carry believers to appointed duty, needful trial, and purchased rest. However dark your position or agitated your course, let faith realize, and prayer ask for, the overruling will of God, and all will be well. “My times are in thy hand.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES
Jonah 2:9. Salvation of God.
1. The feeling of assurance.
2. The expression of gratitude.
3. The ground of encouragement to others. Turn the prison of the world into the temple of God and it will not be able to detain thee [Lange].
Jonah 2:10. That time might not efface his impressions, he would hasten to record, under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, for the instruction of his own countrymen and the Israel of God in all ages, the trials, mercies, and experience of the last few eventful days. The record has reached us, and besides other instruction, may remind us—First, That the troubles of believers have an appointed end, and a joyful one: the rod of their correction is not for ever (Psalms 77:7-11; Isaiah 49:14-15). Let them, then, believe, submit, and wait. Secondly, That trust in God is that grace which it is their privilege and duty to exercise under all circumstances, even under manifest chastisements for admitted sins. The issue of such trust shall be good, truly and thoroughly good, and often, beyond all expectation, blessed and joyful. Thirdly, That Christians should not sorrow over departed Christians, as they who are without hope. This extraordinary circumstance in Jonah’s history was typical of the far more wonderful and glorious event of the resurrection of Christ, and those who sleep with him. The grave shall disgorge her temporary prey, and then shall be brought to pass the saying, Death is swallowed up of victory [Sibthorp].
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 2
Jonah 2:1-4. Affliction. Sorrow sanctifies the soul that has passed through it, renders it supple and sweet, prompt with gentle sympathy. Larger self-knowledge has been acquired. One can date from such seasons deeper emotions, broader lines of thought, a stronger character, and enlarged experience. As Rodgers sings—
“The good are better made by ill,
As odours crushed are sweeter still.”
Jonah 2:5-6. Here his cry might be as dolorous as that of David in Psalms 69:0. Some of the tried children of God have found cause to make it theirs; and so would all, if he gave the reins to their soul’s enemies or dealt with them as their iniquities deserve. Let us look at the sufferings of Abraham, Joseph, Job, David, Jeremiah, Paul, and others of God’s ancient saints, and adore his mercy toward us. But let us look from them at the Saviour, and at the deep and stormy waters he passed through [Sibthorp].
“Night brings out stars, as sorrow teaches truth.”
Jonah 2:7. Remembered. As God doth plant and actuate grace in the soul, so he is pleased to come in with seasonable supplies and reinforcements to the weak and decayed graces of his people. Thus he feeds the believer’s lamp with fresh oil; gives in more faith, more love, more hope, and more desires; and hereby he gives power to the faint, and strengthens the things which remain and are ready to die [John Willison].
This truth the poet sings—
“That a sorrow’s crown of sorrow is remembering happier things” [Tennyson].
Jonah 2:8. Vanity. As well try to fill the yawning chasm with a few grains of sand as satisfy the gulf of the soul’s desires with the pleasure of an empty world [Macduff].
Jonah 2:9. Vowed. The Archbishop of Cologne, being asked by the Emperor Sigismund how to attain true happiness, replied, “Perform when thou art well what thou promised when thou wast sick.”
Jonah 2:10. Providence. We are not able to account for the method of Divine providence in many instances. We talk of special and general providence; but it would be better if we could see that human life is one grand providence and purpose.
“Each man’s life is all men’s lessons.” [Lord Lytton.]
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Jonah 2". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany