Chapter 2 (ESV) Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, saying,
“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.
For you cast me into the deep,
into the heart of the seas,
and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
passed over me.
Then I said, ‘I am driven away
from your sight;
yet I shall again look
upon your holy temple.’
The waters closed in over me to take my life;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head
at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the pit,
O Lord my God.
When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the Lord,
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple.
Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the Lord!”
And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.
Question to think about: After reading through Jonah’s prayer, I’ll ask the question again. Why did God send the great fish?
Was your answer different from yesterday? There is something I want you to take note of from the last sentence in chapter 1 and the last sentence in chapter 2. Jonah was in the belly of the fish for 3 days, and yet the very moment Jonah says, “what I have vowed I will pay” (in other words I will go and do what God called me to do), God tells the fish to spit Jonah out onto the dry land. This means it took Jonah 3 days from the point in which he cried out and God saved him from dying at the bottom of the sea to the point where he thanked God for doing it and vowed obedience in preaching to the Ninevites.
When he says “out of the belly of Sheol,” he’s not talking about the belly of the fish. Sheol was a hebrew term for the realm of the dead. So after the sailors threw him overboard, Jonah sank to the bottom of the sea and certain death. He doesn’t blame the sailors for throwing him overboard but says of God, “You cast me into the deep…” As his life is fading away, he calls out to God for his salvation. Those who pray to false gods or vain idols do not know or understand the steadfast love of our God. Like Jonah, I have not been obedient to God in my thoughts and actions. I have not loved my neighbor as I should. Because Jesus has paid the penalty for my sin on the cross, I too can cry out, “Salvation belongs to the Lord!” The hebrew word for salvation is “yeshua” which in greek is translated “jesus”.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your steadfast love that never fails us even when we fail you. Thank you for saving Jonah from the depths of the sea as you have saved us from the depths of sin and death. May our prayers come to you in your holy temple, and may we, by your mercy, strive to live in a way that pleases you. Amen.