From Inside the Fish.

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.

Jonah 2:1 (NIV)

Please note, it was a fish, not a whale. 


But the fact that “Jonah and the whale” is what most people reference, I will swallow either interpretation.

No pun intended.

Whether the sea creature breathed through gills or a blowhole isn’t the point anyway.

I believe Jonah was, indeed, swallowed whole by a sea creature of significant size with stomach big enough to hold a person. In Jonah’s case, a desperate, praying person.

Considering that the stomach is where acidic, digestive enzymes get to work, breaking down organic matter, this predicament sounds downright awful. 

But prior to the swallowing incident, Jonah had already gotten himself into a heap of trouble.

Fraught with guilt for having disobeyed God’s clear direction, choosing instead to make a fugitive of himself on a ship bound for Tarshish (say that 5 times fast), he insisted the sailors throw him overboard.

Then this:

You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. (vs 3, 5)

Stop there. Picture that.

Seaweed wrapped around his head?

Bless him. 

Not sure if this image of Jonah makes me laugh or cry.

A head wrapped in seaweed when one is being churned by strong currents had to be frightening. Humiliating at the very least.

Enough to make a formerly rebellious prophet cry out to the Lord. As intended.

In my distress I called to the Lord, and He answered me. (vs. 2)

From inside what “fish” will God prompt me to pray to Him? 

Will it be that I’ve chosen my own way again and now I’m in entangled in a mess He never intended?

The cords of death entangled me (David); the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help….He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.

Psalm 18:4, 6, 16

Sounds like David and Jonah would have had a lot of animated rescue stories to share if they’d hung out together.

God knows what tight spaces my heart needs to be taken in order to tip my chin in prayer and cry out to Him, either because of my own foolish doing or because He’s seen fit to allow hard things. 

The Lord disciplines those He loves.

Hebrews 12:6 (NIV)

After being hurled into the very heart of the sea, what would have been the outcome for Jonah if God hadn’t intervened and provided a great fish (not a whale) to swallow him? 


Scripture is clear. The Lord provided — not punished — Jonah with a fish (not a whale).

From inside or outside the swimming life preserver, God is good.

What will be our response when, in love, He provides a fish (not a whale) to swallow us whole? Please share your thoughts. I’d love to interact with you here! 😉


  1. Emily Conrad says:

    I like the point you make about looking at the “great fish” in our lives as blessings and provision!

    • Mary Felkins says:

      It took me a while to understand this, where scripture clearly states, He provided a fish. For too long, this account read like a punishment until I’d remembered the heart of God and His unfailing goodness.

  2. Kelly says:

    I love your humor! But to the point, I think we often don’t realize the mess we’ve made and sometimes blame God. Then it naturally follows that the “great fish” He sends to rescue us, at first, looks like a bigger problem to solve. Trusting God in obedience certainly pays off, but even when we fail to obey we can trust that He will hear our distress and those “big fish” are often just what we need to get back on solid ground.

    • Mary Felkins says:

      Great thought, that the fish looks like a bigger mess to solve. True! I don’t know where any of us would be if He didn’t choose to hear us in our distress. Thanks, Kelly!

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