Then said they to him, What shall we do to you, that the sea may be calm to us? for the sea worked, and was tempestuous.…
Look at those swarthy sailors. They were among Jonah's teachers; they, too, may be among ours. From age to age in this chapter they sail the sea - Jonah's friends; ours also if we will let them be, having much to say to us if we have but ears to hear. Mark -
I. THEIR REVERENCE. There is nothing rough and rude about them. The storm has subdued them. What they hear from Jonah affects them. Is it not the hour of their conversion? They cease from idolatry and worship Jehovah. Hearing of Jehovah as God of heaven, earth, and sea, they were "exceedingly afraid." He must indeed be the Lord! And that Jonah should have sought to flee from him! "What shall we do unto thee?" they ask; for through Jonah they would learn the will of God concerning him. They have no grudge against him, no scorn for him, no words of insult, no deed of violence. They reverence his God, and so show kindness to him. A pattern in this to us. Have we an offending brother - one who has offended us? Let us wrong not ourselves, nor wrong him, the better man in him, by bitterness. The wrong doer will have self-reproach enough, bitter memories enough.
II. THEIR SELF-DENYING GENEROSITY. Those sailors did what they could to save the prophet. When Jonah was at his best they were at their best. His unselfishness called out theirs; their nobility answered to his. Thus is it ever. Be kind, pure, generous, and you will help others to show kindness, and to be pure and generous. What inspiration is there in goodness! Supremely is this seen in our blessed Lord. What an encouragement to copy him that we may quicken others!
"Honour to these whose words or deeds
Thus help us in our daily needs,
And by their overflow
Raise us from what is low."
III. THEIR PRAYERFULNESS. As heathens they had "given themselves to prayer; Hearing of Jehovah, they pray to him. They cannot save Jonah; but before they do the deprecated deed "they cried unto the Lord" - all of them, earnest, importunate. They recognized God in this series of events; they would be submissive to him; they would be clear of this man's blood; they would take no step without prayer. Nor let us. Let it be the "key of the morning and the bolt of the night." When have we not requests to offer? needs to be supplied? When do we not need God?
IV. THEIR GODLY FEAR ATTESTED. At the sight of the sudden great calm "the men feared the Lord exceedingly." Their fear, their faith, evidenced itself. By "a sacrifice unto the Lord" they expressed in act thankfulness for the past and present; by their "vows," their resolution of service in the time to come. As from themselves, must have come the knowledge of the sacrifice offered and vows made, we may believe that that sacrifice to Jehovah was the first of many, and that the vows made were paid; otherwise they had not cared to have remembered or spoken of them. In these days of Christian light may we offer a daily sacrifice of our time, means, faculty, influence, to him who for us "even dared to die," and in his strength perform the many vows that we have made. - G.T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.