by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
Jonah 2:2 And he said: "I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, And He answered me. "Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice.
3 For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.
7 "When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple.
9 But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord."
Jonah now acknowledges that God put him where he is, and he accepts His discipline. "Sheol" is the "grave", the "pit" or the "abode of the dead". Did Jonah die, or was he only nearly dead from three days of fish stomach acid, and little or no air? The text doesn't say; only that if he didn't actually leave his body, he came as close as a man can get to it; three days worth. In this nebulous and miserable place Jonah cried out, probably from the deepest depths of his agonized soul…he cried out to the Lord.
First, he gave thanks; quite amazing, but very plausible for a true man of God who has come to his senses. Anyone who truly loves the Lord is grateful for His discipline, painful as it may be. And finally, Jonah repented and consented to "pay what he had vowed". What this vow was we can only speculate. It may have something to do with a promise of devoted service in connection with his calling as a prophet of the Most High; or it may have been a promise he decided to make right there in the fish's belly. In any case, he was coming into agreement with the will of God once again. It must have been a great relief.
Jonah then prophesied once again; "Salvation is of the Lord!" Hallelujah! Jonah knew this now in a way and depth unprecedented until this moment of "resurrection". His near-death experience gave him a depth of revelation of God's power to save that few of us will ever experience. It will prove to be tremendously effective for the prophet's future ministry.
"Salvation is of the Lord." It starts and ends with God. How well do we know this? How often do we relearn it? Jonah's experience in the belly of a great fish cleared and focused his mind toward what matters most in all this world. In the terrifying darkness he realized the folly of resisting God's reality and will. What might we need to sacrifice or endure to reach that level of conviction? Can we honestly pray that the Lord would have His way with us in the midst of all the little ways we "run away" from Him? Jonah's "quiet place" was forced upon him. But up to now, for most of us, drawing near to the Lord for deeper revelation is still a choice we can make.