|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 6. - The bottoms of the mountains; literally, the cuttings off, where the mountains seem to be cut off by the ocean floor; the roots of the mountains. Αἰς σχισμὰς ὀρέων, "the clefts of the mountains" (Sop-tuagint); Psalm 18:15. The earth with her bars; as for the earth, her bars were about me; return to it was shut out for me; the gate by which I might return was locked behind me. He adds, forever, as it was to all appearance, because he had no power in himself of returning to earth and life. Yet; in spite of all, I am preserved. From corruption (shachath); as Job 17:14; de corruptione (Vulgate); so the Chaldee and Syriac; Septuagint, Ἀναβήτω ἐκ φθορᾶς ἡ ζωή μου (Alex.), Ἀναβήτω φθορὰ ζωῆς μου (Vatican), "Let my life arise from destruction;" or, "Let the destruction of my life [i.e. my destroyed life] arise." Jerome refers the word to the digestive process in the fish's stomach; it is probably merely a synonym for "death." The marginal rendering, "the pit," i.e. Sheol, is also etymologically correct (comp. Psalm 30:3). My God. He thankfully acknowledges that Jehovah has proved himself a beneficent God to him.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I went down to the bottom of the mountains,.... Which are in the midst of the sea, whither the fish carried him, and where the waters are deep; or the bottom of rocks and promontories on the shore of the sea; and such vast rocks hanging over the sea, whose bottoms were in it, it seems are on the shore of Joppa, near to which Jonah was cast into the sea, as Egesippus (f) relates:
the earth with her bars was about me for ever; that is, the earth with its cliffs and rocks on the seashore, which are as bars to the sea, that it cannot overflow it; these were such bars to Jonah, that could he have got clear of the fish's belly, and attempted to swim to shore, he could never get to it, or over these bars, the rocks and cliffs, which were so steep and high:
yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God; notwithstanding these difficulties, which were insuperable by human power, and these seeming impossibilities of, deliverance; yet the Lord brought him out of the fish's belly, as out of a grave, the pit of corruption, and where he must otherwise have lain and rotted, and freed his soul from those terrors which would have destroyed him; and by this also we learn, that this form of words was composed after he came to dry land: herein likewise he was a type of Christ, who, though laid in the grave, was not left there so long as to see corruption, Psalm 16:10.
(f) "De excidio", Urb. Hieros. l. 3. c. 20.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. bottoms of … mountains—their extremities where they terminate in the hidden depths of the sea. Compare Ps 18:7, "the foundations of the hills" (Ps 18:15).
earth with her bars was about me—Earth, the land of the living, is (not "was") shut against me.
for ever—so far as any effort of mine can deliver me.
yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption—rather, "Thou bringest … from the pit" [Maurer]. As in the previous clauses he expresses the hopelessness of his state, so in this, his sure hope of deliverance through Jehovah's infinite resources. "Against hope he believes in hope," and speaks as if the deliverance were actually being accomplished. Hezekiah seems to have incorporated Jonah's very words in his prayer (Isa 38:17), just as Jonah appropriated the language of the Psalms.
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