1Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish,
2and he said,
"I called out of my distress to the LORD,
And He answered me
I cried for help from the depth of Sheol;
You heard my voice.
3"For You had cast me into the deep,
Into the heart of the seas,
And the current engulfed me
All Your breakers and billows passed over me.
Finally, after three days and three nights, Jonah called out to God. He recognized his distress, and he had had enough of running from God. He acknowledged that it was God Who had tracked him down and put him in this stomach. He knew that he could not flee from God’s presence. Surely, he thought his death was imminent, but God heard his cry from the depths. There is no depth from which God cannot reach to us, forgive us, and use us (cf. Psalm 40:2).
4"So I said, 'I have been expelled from Your sight
Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.'
5"Water encompassed me to the point of death
The great deep engulfed me,
Weeds were wrapped around my head.
6"I descended to the roots of the mountains
The earth with its bars was around me forever,
But You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.
Jonah recognized that he had angered God, but he turned to look back toward God. He acknowledged God’s holiness and his sin. He needed to be restored by the mercy of God. He wanted to pursue God’s holy ways and commands once again. He had almost drowned, being wrapped in weeds and thrust to the depths of the sea. But he praised God for delivering him from this pit.
7"While I was fainting away,
I remembered the LORD,
And my prayer came to You,
Into Your holy temple.
8"Those who regard vain idols
Forsake their faithfulness,
9But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving
That which I have vowed I will pay
Salvation is from the LORD."
While he was about to perish inside the fish (perhaps due to a lack of oxygen or starvation), he remembered the Lord. Finally, on his “deathbed,” he repented. He remembered God, and God heard his prayer. There is no depth to which we can sink that God will not hear our prayer and forgive us if we call to Him in faith and humility. His idol was himself and his selfish pleasures in that he had the pride to think he could run from God and force God to not accomplish His sovereign purposes. Nothing, not even God’s prophet Jonah, could stop God from accomplishing His will. This pride and self-centeredness caused Jonah to forsake his faithfulness to God. He had been walking after the Lord, and God wanted to use him to serve Him. But in God’s call to him, God had to deal with some heart issues. Jonah then thanked God, acknowledged His salvation (both of his soul and his present predicament), and yielded his will to fulfilling the commitment which he had made to God (probably telling God he would do whatever he was asked or returning to preaching the words God gave him to say).
10Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.
Upon his repentance, God commanded the fish, and it vomited up Jonah on the dry land. God is in control of all things, and He is able to do anything He purposes. Now Jonah was off to Nineveh, probably looking awful and smelling horrific. But he went.