Chap. 2 vs. 1. Some put a great deal of emphasis upon the word then—“Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly.” The assumption is that this means after he had been in the fish three days and three nights, then he prayed. This is not what it means. It is characteristic of the Hebrew language to give the full account of something and then to go back and emphasize that which is important. This same technique is used in Genesis concerning the creation. We are given the six days of creation, and then God goes back and gives a detailed account of the creation of man, adding a great deal. It means that now Jonah is going to tell us the story in detail; he is going to tell us what really happened inside the fish.
In verses 2-6 we could have insight into the suffering of our Savior. The waters of the wrath of God surrounded Him as His soul was offered for sin. The crown of thorn He put on because of the Genesis curse. Jesus told us that He went into the heart of the earth, the pit of death, (Matt. 12:40).
vs. 2. What stands out most to you from this verse? God heard Jonah’s prayer! His affliction was two sided, the whale or great fish on one side and fleeing from God on the other.
vs. 3-4. As Jonah describes what is happening to him, he acknowledges that it has come as judgement from God. In Jonah chapter 1:3, we learned that Jonah ran from God, here he realizes that the Lord has expelled him temporarily. “Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight”—Jonah is speaking of death. “Yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.” Jonah believed that he would be raised from the dead. He had been brought up on the Old Testament, and I think that Jonah was one of the many in the northern kingdom who faithfully went down to Jerusalem to worship in the temple. The Israelites knew that Solomon’s temple was the place to worship the living and true God. Jonah says, “I’m going to look again toward thy holy temple. God will raise me up again.”
vs. 5. My soul describes Jonah’s total person, spiritually and physically.
vs. 6. “I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever.” In the old English, this is the way that death was spoken of. “The earth with her bars was about me for ever”—Jonah is speaking of the bars of death, and that is the meaning of this translation.
“Yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God.” “Corruption” is death. The apostle Peter so used this word on the Day of Pentecost when he said that the Lord Jesus did not see corruption (see Acts 2:25–31). The miracle about the Christ is that when He died He did not see corruption—His body did not corrupt. That is the difference between Jonah’s experience and our Lord’s experience. Jonah did see corruption. Apparently his body began to decay in those three days and three nights. “Yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption.” What we have here, in my judgment, is a definite statement by Jonah that he died. The miracle here is resurrection, and that is a much greater miracle than for a man to live for three days inside a fish. It is very important that we have a book in the Old Testament which teaches the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Resurrection and the death of Jesus are the two pillars that the church stands on.
vs. 7. Jonah’s soul got wet and his soul fainted with him.
vs. 8. Vanity means emptiness, that which is empty or vain, really just a dream that will never come to pass.
vs. 9. What would be in your heart if you were dead for three days and then were vomited onto dry land? Jonah’s vow was probably that he would go to Ninevah and follow God’s instruction. Does God deal with us this way today? Does God judge us and chastise us for things we should have done or learned? “Salvation is of the Lord.” The most important statement in the book of Jonah. Salvation is always God’s work for us and never our work! God had to do it because all we have is imperfection. Salvation can be thought of in three parts. The past, present, and future. 1. “I have been saved.” John 5:24. 2. “I am being saved.” Eph. 2:8-10. We are His workmanship. We need to continue to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. 3. “I will be…” 1 John 3:2. “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man that has fully yielded to Him.” Henry Varley. We should not get discouraged with one another, God will continue to work with us until the end.
vs. 10. “It’s hard to keep a good man down.” “Even a fish couldn’t digest Jonah, the back sliding prophet.” Just as God calls the stars, He speaks to the animal world. Numbers 22:28-30.