I am away from my office desk and without Mounce’s text for this week’s Text Tuesday post. Instead, I am working on sermons for the remainder of our Jonah series this month.
As I work through Jonah 2, I’m struck by the language in Jonah’s prayer. Verse 5 says,
“The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.”
Jonah uses a familiar term “engulfed” (Hebrew: afafuni) to describe his experience after being hurled into the ocean. This word is used by the psalmists to describe drowning, which fits the theme of the first part of Jonah: descent. Jonah goes “down, down, down,” to Joppa, to the bottom of the ship, to the depths of the ocean, and into the depths of the fish.
Perhaps you’ve experienced the panic of being under water longer than you anticipated, how the immediate dread spills over one’s mind when the air runs out. Jonah felt this on a couple of different levels: physical and emotional, I’d expect. He was surrounded; there was no way out.
In that place, he poured his heart out to God in what is, for the most part, a penitent and thoughtful prayer. When we are surrounded, we tend to say the most honest prayers.