|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.
Verse 2. - He introduces the prayer with the tact that he cried to God in distress and was heard. By reason of mine affliction; better, out of my affliction. This may be a reminiscence of Psalm 120:1 or Psalm 18:6; but from such coincidences nothing can be established concerning the date of the book. Like circumstances call forth like expressions; and the writers may have composed them quite independently of one another. Hell (Sheol). The unseen world (Ezekiel 32:21). He was as though dead when thus engulfed (comp. Psalm 18:5). Cried I (Psalm 28:1, 2). Thou heardest my voice (Psalm 130:1, 2).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And said,.... Not unto the Lord in prayer, but to others, to whom he communicated what passed between God and him in this time of distress; how he prayed to him, and was heard by him; what a condition he had been in, and how he was delivered out of it; what was his frame of mind while in it, sometimes despairing, and sometimes hoping; and how thankful he was for this salvation, and was determined to praise the Lord for it:
I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; or, "out of my strait" (a); being straitened in his body, and as it were in a prison in the fish's belly; and straitened in his soul, being between hope and despair, and under the apprehensions of the divine displeasure. A time of affliction is a time for prayer; it brings those to it that have disused it; it made Jonah cry to his God, if not with a loud voice, yet inwardly; and his cry was powerful and piercing, it reached the heavens, and entered into the ears of the Lord of hosts, though out of the depths, and out of the belly of a fish, in the midst of the sea:
out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice; or, "out of the belly of the grave" (b); out of the midst of it; that is, out of the belly of the fish, which was as a grave to him, as Jarchi observes; where he lay as out of the land of the living, as one dead, and being given up for dead: and it may also respect the frame of his mind, the horror and terror lie was in, arising from a sense of his sins, and the apprehensions he had of the wrath of God, which were as a hell in his conscience; and amidst all this he cried to God, and he heard him; and not only delivered him from he fish's belly, but from those dreadful apprehensions he had of his state and condition; and spoke peace and pardon to him. This is a proof that this prayer or thanksgiving be it called which it will, was composed, as to the form and order of it, after his deliverance; and these words are an appeal to God for the truth of what he had said in the preceding clause, and not a repetition of it in prayer; or expressing the same thing in different words.
(a) "ex angustia mea", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "ex arcto mihi", Cocceius. (b) "e ventre sepulchri", Calvin, Piscator, Liveleus; "e ventre sepulchrali", Junius & Tremellius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. His prayer is partly descriptive and precatory, partly eucharistical. Jonah incorporates with his own language inspired utterances familiar to the Church long before in Jon 2:2, Ps 120:1; in Jon 2:3, Ps 42:7; in Jon 2:4, Ps 31:22; in Jon 2:5, Ps 69:1; in Jon 2:7, Ps 142:3; 18:6; in Jon 2:8, Ps 31:6; in Jon 2:9, Ps 116:17, 18, and 3:8. Jonah, an inspired man, thus attests both the antiquity and inspiration of the Psalms. It marks the spirit of faith, that Jonah identifies himself with the saints of old, appropriating their experiences as recorded in the Word of God (Ps 119:50). Affliction opens up the mine of Scripture, before seen only on the surface.
out of the belly of hell—Sheol, the unseen world, which the belly of the fish resembled.
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