New American Standard Bible
"Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish."
King James Bible
Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
Darby Bible Translation
Who knoweth but that God will turn and repent, and will turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
World English Bible
Who knows whether God will not turn and relent, and turn away from his fierce anger, so that we might not perish?"
Young's Literal Translation
Who knoweth? He doth turn back, and God hath repented, and hath turned back from the heat of His anger, and we do not perish.'
Jonah 3:9 Parallel
CommentaryBarnes' Notes on the Bible
Who can tell if God will turn and repent? - The Ninevites use the same form of words, which God suggested by Joel to Judah. Perhaps He would thereby indicate that He had Himself put it into their mouths. "In uncertainty they repented, and obtained certain mercy" . "It is therefore left uncertain, that men, being doubtful of their salvation, may repent the more vehemently and the more draw down on themselves the mercy of God" . "Most certain are the promises of God, whereby He has promised pardon to the penitent. And yet the sinner may well be uncertain whether he have obtained that penitence which makes him the object of those promises, not a servile repentance for fear of punishment, but true contrition out of the love of God." And so by this uncertainty, while, with the fear of hell, there is mingled the fear of the loss of God, the fear of that loss, which in itself involves some love, is, by His grace, turned into a contrite love, as the terrified soul thinks "Who" He is, whom it had all but lost, whom, it knows not whether it may not lose. In the case of the Ninevites, the remission of the temporal and eternal punishment was bound up in one, since the only punishment which God had threatened was temporal, and if this was forgiven, that forgiveness was a token that His displeasure had ceased.
"They know not the issue, yet they neglect not repentance. They are unacquainted with the method of the lovingkindness of God, and they are changed amid uncertainty. They had no other Ninevites to look to, who had repented and been saved. They had not read the prophets nor heard the patriarchs, nor benefited by counsel, nor partaken of instruction, nor had they persuaded themselves that they should altogether propitiate God by repentance. For the threat did not contain this. But they doubted and hesitated about this, and yet repented with all carefulness. What account then shall we give, when these, who had no good hopes held out to them as to the issue, gave evidence of such a change, and thou, who mayest be of good cheer as to God's love for men, and hast many times received many pledges of His care, and hast heard the prophets and Apostles, and hast been instructed by the events themselves, strivest not to attain the same measure of virtue as they?
Great then was the virtue too of these people, but much greater the lovingkindness of God; and this you may see from the very greatness of the threat. For on this ground did He not add to the sentence, 'but if ye repent, I will spare,' that, casting among them the sentence unconditioned, He might increase the fear, and, increasing the fear, might impel them the more speedily to repentance." "That fear was the parent of salvation; the threat removed the peril; the sentence of overthrow stayed the overthrow. New and marvelous issue! The sentence threatening death was the parent of life. Contrary to secular judgment, the sentence lost its force, when passed. In secular courts, the passing of the sentence gives it validity. Contrariwise with God, the pronouncing of the sentence made it invalid. For had it not been pronounced, the sinners had not heard it: had they not heard it, they would not have repented, would not have averted the chastisement, would not have enjoyed that marvelous deliverance. They fled not the city, as we do now (from the earthquake), but, remaining, established it. It was a snare, and they made it a wall; a quicksand and precipice, and they made it a tower of safety."
"Was Nineveh destroyed? Quite the contrary. It arose and became more glorious, and all this intervening time has not effaced its glory, and we all yet celebrate it and marvel at it, that thenceforth it has become a most safe harbor to all who sin, not allowing them to sink into despair, but calling all to repentance, both by what it did and by what it gained from the Providence of God, persuading us never to despair of our salvation, but living the best we can, and setting before us a good hope, to be of good cheer that the end will anyhow be good" . "What was Nineveh? "They ate, they drank; they bought, they sold; they planted, they builded;" they gave themselves up to perjuries, lies, drunkenness, enormities, corruptions. This was Nineveh. Look at Nineveh now. They mourn, they grieve, are saddened, in sackcloth and ashes, in fastings and prayers. Where is that Nineveh? It is overthrown."
LibraryOf the Public Fast.
A public fast is when, by the authority of the magistrate (Jonah iii. 7; 2 Chron. xx. 3; Ezra viii. 21), either the whole church within his dominion, or some special congregation, whom it concerneth, assemble themselves together, to perform the fore-mentioned duties of humiliation; either for the removing of some public calamity threatened or already inflicted upon them, as the sword, invasion, famine, pestilence, or other fearful sickness (1 Sam. vii. 5, 6; Joel ii. 15; 2 Chron. xx.; Jonah iii. …
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety
"Nineveh, that Great City"
2 Samuel 12:22
He said, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, 'Who knows, the LORD may be gracious to me, that the child may live.'
You withdrew all Your fury; You turned away from Your burning anger.
Do return, O LORD; how long will it be? And be sorry for Your servants.
"Now therefore amend your ways and your deeds and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will change His mind about the misfortune which He has pronounced against you.
Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.'
Who knows whether He will not turn and relent And leave a blessing behind Him, Even a grain offering and a drink offering For the LORD your God?
So the captain approached him and said, "How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish."
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