And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying,
“I called out to the LORD, out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.
For you cast me into the deep,
into the heart of the seas,
and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
passed over me.
Then I said, ‘I am driven away
from your sight;
yet I shall again look
upon your holy temple.’
The waters closed in over me to take my life;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head
at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the pit,
O LORD my God.
When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the LORD,
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple.
Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the LORD!”
And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land. – Jonah 1:17-2:10 (ESV)
Kevin Youngblood writes:
The climatic confession in Jonah’s prayer is that “deliverance belongs to Yahweh.” A nearly identical confession appeals in Psalm 3:8 in the context of David’s prayer for deliverance from his enemies. He states, “To Yahweh belongs deliverance.” These two statements reflect the general Old Testament belief that Yahweh alone can offer genuine salvation, and that He alone may determine its timing, mode, and objects. Yet despite this confession, God’s people have sometimes attempted to place their own conditions and limitations on it. The Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 provides one example of the early church’s struggle with this very issue. Jewish Christians were considering whether circumcision, dietary restrictions, and the observance of a particular liturgical calendar should be made conditions of salvation and fellowship for Gentile converts.
The apostle John reasserts and expands on the confession of Psalm 3:8 and Jonah 2:10 in Revelation 7:10 in the context of a heavenly vision. John suddenly finds himself in the midst of an innumerable multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language. Everyone in this international gathering wears white and holds palm branches as they cry out in unison, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” John’s allusion to this Old Testament confession clarifies its meaning in two respects. First John underscores God’s sovereignty in salvation by adding the relative clause, “who sits on the throne.” The emphasis falls on God’s exclusive right to offer salvation and to set its terms and limits. Second, John adds to the end of the statement “and to the Lamb,” which indicates that the Father shares His sovereignty over salvation with the Son.
Jonah’s grateful admission that true deliverance comes only from YHWH entails implications that the prophet did not understand until after his mission to Nineveh. Yahweh’s sovereignty over salvation means that Yahweh may offer deliverance to whomever he chooses. Jonah has no right to object to or restrict that salvation, especially since he himself was a beneficiary of Yahweh’s merciful deliverance.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 47
Q. 47. What is forbidden in the first commandment?
A. The first commandment forbiddeth the denying, or not worshiping and glorifying the true God as God, and our God; and the giving of that worship and glory to any other, which is due to him alone.