Jonah’s prayer as recorded in this chapter is a prayer of thanksgiving after his deliverance.
2:1 From inside the fish [“no place is amiss for prayer”] Jonah prayed [first mention of Jonah praying; affliction and crisis should lead men to pray] to the LORD his God [the God from whom he had tried to escape].
2:2 He said: “In my distress [a word with the root idea of “restrict” — a tight spot; God redemptively used “distress” to get Jonah back in line] I called to the LORD, and He answered me. From the depths [gates] of the grave [sheol; the place of those who are dead] I called for help [compare language to Ps. 130:1-2], and you listened [while Jonah had not listened to God, God graciously listened to Jonah] to my cry.
2:3 [a confession of God’s sovereignty] You [Jonah recognized that God (through the instrumentality of the sailors) had cast him into the deep; Jonah knew he was being fairly disciplined by God because of his sin] hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of [in the depths of trouble] the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your [God’s] waves and breakers [God’s instruments; see also Ps. 42:7] swept over me.
2:4 I [Jonah came to his senses like the prodigal son in Luke 15:17] said, ‘I have been banished [outcast] from your sight [felt the intense loneliness of his folly]; yet I will look again toward your holy [heavenly] temple [rather than temple in Jerusalem].’
2:5 The engulfing waters threatened me [sin always puts people in danger], the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head [Jonah was in real danger of death by drowning].
2:6 To the roots [depths; the point of no return] of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever [the place where “the earth with its bars” incarcerates men in a watery grave]. But you [Jonah acknowledged that his deliverance was from God] brought my life up from the pit [Jonah felt like he was in Sheol, the place of the dead], O LORD my God.
2:7 [this verse is a parallel to verse 2] “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered [remembering what God has done in the past can give us hope in the present] you, LORD [Jonah’s circumstances caused him to focus on God], and my prayer [circumstances caused Jonah to pray to the Lord] rose to you [God heard Jonah’s prayer], to your holy temple [either refers to temple in Jerusalem or is a description of restoration to God’s favor].
2:8 “Those who cling to [reverence and seek the help of] worthless [empty; impotent] idols [cf. Jonah 1:5] forfeit the grace [there is no salvation or help in idols] that could be theirs.
2:9 [Jonah’s repentance led him to a recommitment to God’s call] But I [Jonah drew a contrast between himself and the idolators mentioned in verse 8], with a song of thanksgiving [prayer/psalm of deliverance from a watery grave], will sacrifice [Jonah’s repentance led to a recommitment to obedient service] to you. What I [voluntarily] have vowed [deliverance motivated Jonah to make a vow to the Lord, perhaps to go to Nineveh] I will make good [see Ecc. 5:4-5]. Salvation comes from [belongs to] the LORD.”
2:10 And [after Jonah’s repentance] the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land [Jonah had run from God in rebellion and returned in repentance, ready to be used in service to God].