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How did the sailors’ fear change from verse 5 to verse 16?
Deeper Reflection THE NARRATIVE OF THE STORM AND SAILORS IS FULL OF
irony and comedy. Picture the drama. The seasoned mariners were scared
out of their wits (v.5). In an utter frenzy, they dumped cargo, desperately
trying to save themselves. In contrast, Jonah the rebellious prophet was
oblivious to the danger, sleeping in the bowels of the ship. The mariners
were frantically calling out to their gods. But the prophet of the LORD
And so the flabbergasted captain came to Jonah and commanded him,
“Arise, call out to your god!” (v.6). This is a parody of the divine command
that Jonah rejected: arise,…and call out against Nineveh (Jon 1:2).65 After an
exercise of lot-casting to determine who is responsible for the disaster, the
sailors discovered that it is Jonah, who then disclosed, “I fear the LORD,
the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land” (v.9). Jonah’s talk
about “fear” must have sounded incredibly hollow to the sailors who knew
about his wilful rebellion!66 It was them, and not the LORD’s prophet, who
understood the gravity of what Jonah had done (v.10).
Another irony of the story is that because of Jonah’s irreverence, the sailors
came to genuinely revere his God (v.16). How about us? Are we like Jonah,
professing to fear God but treating God flippantly? Pastor Timothy Keller
defines the fear of the Lord as being “overwhelmed with wonder before
the greatness of God and His love”67. Let us ask the LORD for an undivided
heart that truly fears His name (Psa 86:11).
65 D. J. Wiseman, T. D. Alexander, and B. K. Waltke, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah, Tyndale Old Testament commentaries v. 26
66 Ibid., 116.
67 Timothy Keller and Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage (New York: Dutton, 2011), 68.
What does the fear of the Lord mean to me and how does it impact the way I live?
Prayer: Write a prayer to God as your response from your meditation on and application of the Scriptures.
Give thanks and praise
Pray for pastors and staff: That they will have an undivided heart that fears
the name of the LORD (Psa 86:11)