All of Christ for All of Life
Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone

8 February 2021 – Jonah 1:17-2:10

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)

Stephen R. Schrader writes:

Verses 3-6a provide some interesting insights into Jonah’s perception of his experience. He acknowledges that God “hurled” him into the sea. The waves are also described as belonging to the LORD, thus showing that Jonah fully realizes that the sovereign God is disciplining him in this ordeal. Further, Jonah has become aware that his disobedience has cut him off from fellowship with Yahweh. In spite of this, Jonah determines that he will turn to God for help.

Verses 5-6b vividly describe the hopelessness of the situation. Verse 5a may be translated: “the engulfing waters surrounded me even unto my throat.” Throat, here, would be tantamount to “head.” Jonah’s life is about to be snuffed out! This is the end of his descent. Jonah’s utter desperation is expressed in the word forever, because he expects to die.

God had “hurled” Jonah into the sea but now brings his life up from the pit. Similarly, David acknowledges: “O LORD, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit” (Ps. 30:3). God is good!

Verse 7 recapitulates the previous three elements: Jonah’s distress, his prayer to Yahweh, and his confidence that his prayer has been answered. Verse 8 summarizes the lesson that Jonah learns from this experience. His rebellion was in essence idolatry. Thus, in a state of rebellion he had cut himself off from the grace of God.

Verse 9 contains three ideas. First, Jonah resolves to offer sacrifices to God with a “cry of praise.” We are to come into God’s presence with cries of praise. Second, Jonah resolves to pay his vows. These most likely were made when he knew he was going to die. Third, “salvation comes from the LORD.” God delivers the rebellious believer when he humbles himself and calls upon God. All of God’s goodness is extended to undeserving sinners.

MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 55
Q. 55. What is forbidden in the third commandment?
A. The third commandment forbiddeth all profaning or abusing of anything whereby God maketh himself known.