|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:1-9 Observe when Jonah prayed. When he was in trouble, under the tokens of God's displeasure against him for sin: when we are in affliction we must pray. Being kept alive by miracle, he prayed. A sense of God's good-will to us, notwithstanding our offences, opens the lips in prayer, which were closed with the dread of wrath. Also, where he prayed; in the belly of the fish. No place is amiss for prayer. Men may shut us from communion with one another, but not from communion with God. To whom he prayed; to the Lord his God. This encourages even backsliders to return. What his prayer was. This seems to relate his experience and reflections, then and afterwards, rather than to be the form or substance of his prayer. Jonah reflects on the earnestness of his prayer, and God's readiness to hear and answer. If we would get good by our troubles, we must notice the hand of God in them. He had wickedly fled from the presence of the Lord, who might justly take his Holy Spirit from him, never to visit him more. Those only are miserable, whom God will no longer own and favour. But though he was perplexed, yet not in despair. Jonah reflects on the favour of God to him, when he sought to God, and trusted in him in his distress. He warns others, and tells them to keep close to God. Those who forsake their own duty, forsake their own mercy; those who run away from the work of their place and day, run away from the comfort of it. As far as a believer copies those who observe lying vanities, he forsakes his own mercy, and lives below his privileges. But Jonah's experience encourages others, in all ages, to trust in God, as the God of salvation.
Verses 1-10. - Part I. JONAH'S PRAYER AND DELIVERANCE. Verses 1-9. - 1. Jonah, in the belly of the fish, offers a prayer of thanksgiving for his rescue from death by drowning, in which he sees a pledge of further deliverance. Verse 1. - Then Jonah prayed. These were his feelings when he sank in the waters and while he lay in his mysterious prison; he may have put them into their metrical form after his deliverance. The grammatical arrangement, and especially the language of ver. 7, seem to speak of a deliverance already experienced rather than of one expected. As this "prayer" does not suit an allegory, and as no cue but Jonah could have known its substance, we have here an argument for his authorship. It is rather a thanksgiving than a prayer - like that of Hennas (1 Samuel 2:1). When he realizes that he was saved from drowning, he uttered his gratitude, and saw that he might hope for further rescue. How he passed the three days we cannot tell; some have thought he was unconscious; but thin is, perhaps, hardly consistent with the notice of his praying, and with the action of his great Antitype, who, during his sojourn in the unseen world, "preached to the spirits in prison" (1 Peter 3:19). His God. He acknowledges Jehovah as his God. He had proved himself his by inspiration, by chastisement, and now by mercy (Pusey). The following prayer contains ample reminiscences of the Psalms, which would be familiar to a devout Israelite. Those quoted are mostly what have been considered to belong to David's time. if their date is really ascertained. But it is a matter of controversy, incapable of settlement, whether Jonah or the psalmist is the original.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish's belly. Though Jonah had been a praying man, being a good man, and a prophet of the Lord, yet it seems he had not prayed for some time; being disobedient to the will of God, he restrained prayer before him; all the while he was going to Joppa he prayed not; and how indeed could he have the face to pray to him, from whose face he was fleeing? and as soon as he was in the ship he fell asleep, and there lay till he was waked by the shipmaster, who called upon him to arise, and pray to his God; but whether he did or no is not said; and though it is very probable he might, when convicted of his sin, and before he was cast into the sea, and as he was casting into it; his not recorded; but when he was in the fish's belly, "then he prayed"; where it is marvellous he should, or could; it was strange he should be able to breathe, and more strange to breathe spiritually; it was very wonderful he should have the exercise of his reason, and more that he should have the exercise of grace, as faith and hope, as it appears by the following prayer he had. Prayer may be performed any where, on a mountain, in a desert, in the caves and dens of the earth, and in a prison, as it has been; but this is the only time it ever was performed in such a place. Jonah is the only man that ever prayed in a fish's belly: and he prayed unto the Lord as "his God", not merely by creation, and as the God of nature and providence, the God of his life, and of his mercies; but as his covenant God and Father; for though he had sinned against the Lord, and had been sorely chastised by him, yet he did not take his lovingkindness from him, nor suffer his faithfulness to fail, or break his covenant with him; covenant interest and relation still continued; and Jonah had knowledge of it, and faith in it; and as this is an argument the Lord makes use of to engage backsliders to return unto him, it is a great encouragement to them so to do, Jeremiah 3:14. In this Jonah was a type of Christ, who, amidst his agonies, sorrows, and sufferings, prayed to his Father, and claimed his interest in him as his God, Hebrews 5:7. What follows contains the sam and substance of the prophet's thoughts, and the ejaculations of his mind, when in the fish's belly; but were not put up in this form, but were reduced by him into it after he was delivered; as many of David's psalms were put into the form and order they are after his deliverance from troubles, suitable to his thoughts of things when he was in them; and indeed the following account is an historical narration of facts, which were before and after his prayer, as well as of that itself.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Jon 2:1-10. Jonah's Prayer of Faith and Deliverance.
1. his God—"his" still, though Jonah had fled from Him. Faith enables Jonah now to feel this; just as the returning prodigal says of the Father, from whom he had wandered, "I will arise and go to my Father" (Lu 15:18).
out of the fish's belly—Every place may serve as an oratory. No place is amiss for prayer. Others translate, "when (delivered) out of the fish's belly." English Version is better.
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