v 4. Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence.
Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’
Poor runaway Jonah! You know the story well; he was the prophet called by God to announce God’s judgement on Nineveh, so he bought a ship’s ticket to go the other way and after a huge storm ended up being gulped down by a big fish. This section of the story is his prayer to God from inside the fish. There are no tears, just the realisation that God had put him in that perilous situation because of his failure to obey, and had then rescued him from a watery grave. (But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! v 6) He saw God’s hand in all his circumstances, and he now wants to get back to a right relationship with God in worship. (But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfil all my vows. v 9)
Jonah’s repentance and sorrow for his sin are expressed in his desire to get back to where he should be, a God-worshipping and obedient servant. The final 2 chapters of the book show that working out; not in the way Jonah expected I think, but nevertheless a demonstration of God’s mercy.
This propensity to run away from the responsibilities that God gives us is something evidenced in the lives of many – yours and mine included. Jonah’s genuine repentance and willingness to obey is seen as he set out for Nineveh a second time having been spat out by the fish. (That is God’s comfort for Jonah !)