Though there be those who find it in their hearts to quarrel with the goodness of God and His sparing,
pardoning mercy to others (to which we all owe it that we are out of hell),
yet God will justify Himself in the methods of His grace toward repenting sinners.
As God values a human soul, so should we look upon it as worth more than all the world.
1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
2 And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.
3 Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.
4 ¶ Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?
5 So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.
6 And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.
7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.
8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.
9 And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.
10 Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:
11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
Jonah 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Jonah 4 – The Prophet’s Narrowness Rebuked
This chapter marks an era in the development of the outlook of the Hebrew people. Here, upon its repentance, a heathen city was pardoned. Clearly Jehovah was the God, not of the Jews only but of the Gentiles also. Jonah, however, had no pleasure in the revelation. He clung to the bitter narrowness of national prejudice fearing that when his own people received tidings of Nineveh’s repentance and deliverance, they would be encouraged in their obstinate refusal of God’s law.
How often God puts gourds into our lives to refresh us with their exquisite greenery, and to remind us of His thoughtful love! Our fretfulness and petulance are no barriers to His tender mercy. The withering of the gourd extorted bitter reproaches from the prophet who would have beheld the destruction of Nineveh without a tear. He did not realize that to God Nineveh was all, and much more, than the gourd was to him. Notice the extreme beauty of the concluding verse: The permanence of the city contrasted with the frailty of the gourd! The responsibility of God for Nineveh, which He had made to grow! The preciousness to Him, not only of the mature, but of babes and cattle! —Through the Bible Day by Day
Jonah 4:6-8—The LORD God prepared.
This book is full of this word prepared. We are told that the Lord prepared a great fish, a gourd, a worm, and a sultry east wind.
He prepares the fish (Jonah 1:17).—When we are at our wits’ end, apparently going to destruction, He interposes and arrests our progress, and brings us back again to Himself.
He prepares the gourd, that it may come up to be a shadow to our heads, and deliver us from our evil case. The gourd of friendship, of property, of some cherished and successful achievement. Ah, how glad we are for these gourds; though not always sufficiently quick to attribute them to the loving providence of our Heavenly Father.
He prepares the worm, and the east wind.—Jonah would have regarded Nineveh’s destruction with equanimity, he mourned over his gourd; and there was no way of awakening him to the true state of the case than by letting worm and east wind do their work. He must be taught that what the gourd was to himself, Nineveh was to God. Yea, it was more; because God had labored for it, and made it to grow through long centuries (Jonah 4:11).
How often our gourds are allowed to perish, to teach us these deep lessons. In spite of all we can do to keep them green, their leaves turn more and more sere and yellow, until they droop and die. And when they lie prone in the dust, the east wind is let forth from the Almighty hand—the malign breath from which the gourd would have delivered us. O child of God, fainting in the east wind, do not ask to die; but get thee to the blue misty shadow of the great Rock in a weary land; to the Man who is a shadow from the heat. —Our Daily Homily