And he prayed unto the Lord
But in a very different manner from his praying in the fish's belly: this was a very disorderly prayer, put up in the hurry of his spirit, and in the heat of passion: prayer should be fervent indeed, but not like that of a man in a fever; there should be a warmth and ardour of affection in it, but it should be without wrath, as well as without doubting: this is called a prayer, because Jonah thought it to be so, and put it up to the Lord as one. It begins in the form of a prayer; and it ends with a petition, though an unlawful one; and has nothing of true and right prayer in it; no celebration of the divine Being, and his perfections; no confession of sin, ore petition for any blessing of providence or grace; but mere wrangling, contending, and quarrelling with God: and said, I pray thee, O Lord, [was] not this my saying, when I was yet
in my country?
in Judea, or in Galilee, at Gathhepher; was not this what I thought and said within myself, and to thee, that this would be the issue and consequence of going to the Ninevites; they would repent of their sins, and thou wouldst forgive them; and so thou wouldst be reckoned a liar, and I a false prophet? and now things are come to pass just as I thought and said they would: and thus he suggests that he had a greater or better foresight of things than God himself; and that it would have been better if his saying had been attended unto, and not the order of him to Nineveh; how audacious and insolent was this! therefore I fled before unto Tarshish;
before he could have a second order to Nineveh: here he justifies his flight to Tarshish, as if he had good reason for it; and that it would have been better if he had not been stopped in his flight, and had gone to Tarshish, and not have gone to Nineveh. This is amazing, after such severe corrections for his flight, and after such success at Nineveh: for I know that thou [art] a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger,
and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil;
this he knew from his own experience, for which he had reason to be thankful, and from the proclamation of God, in ( Exodus 34:6 Exodus 34:7 ) ; which be seems to have respect unto; and a glorious one it is, though Jonah seems to twit and upbraid the Lord with his grace and mercy to men, as if it was a weakness and infirmity in him, whereas it is his highest glory, ( Exodus 33:18 Exodus 33:19 ) ; he seems to speak of him, and represent him, as if he was all mercy, and nothing else; which is a wrong representation of him; for he is righteous as well as merciful; and in the same place where he proclaims himself to be so, he declares that he will "by no means clear the guilty", ( Exodus 34:7 ) ( Numbers 14:18 ) : but here we see that good men, and prophets, and ministers of the word, are men of like passions with others, and some of greater passions; and here we have an instance of the prevailing corruptions of good men, and how they break out again, even after they have been scourged for them; for afflictions, though they are corrections for sin, and do restrain it, and humble for it, and both purge and prevent it, yet do not wholly remove it.