Jonah 2:5-6 (Today’s New International Version)
“The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath me barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.”
What a vivid picture these two verses paint. The smothering waters, the suffocating abyss. Crowned with seaweed, Jonah sinks ever deeper, down to the roots of the mountains. Then down into the underworld, the waters closing in to keep him contained forever.
Brrrrrrr! That sends unpleasant chills down the spine.
He sank down into the sea, deeper and deeper. The Hebrew used here is yarad: “go down, decend, decline, march down, sink down.” This same verb was used twice in 1:3, when Jonah went down to Joppa, and then went down into the ship. It shows up again in 1:5, when Jonah descended deeper into the interior of the ship. And now it is used for a fourth time as he describes how he sank down into the sea.
It was from this certain death that Jonah now celebrates being rescued. But note that Jonah’s prayer is still not a prayer of repentance — he is not admitting the mistake he made in rebelling against God. He’s not promising to change his ways and to be obedient from this point forward.
No, he’s just glad that he is still alive.
If you were Jonah, trapped inside that fish, what would your prayer be like?