The Angry prayer of Jonah. (1-4):
What all the saints make matter of joy and praise, Jonah makes the subject of reflection upon God; as if showing mercy were an imperfection of the Divine nature, which is the greatest glory of it. It is to his sparing, pardoning mercy, we all owe it that we are out of hell. He wishes for death: this was the language of folly, passion, and strong corruption. There appeared in Jonah remains of a proud, uncharitable spirit; and that he neither expected nor desired the welfare of the Ninevites, but had only come to declare and witness their destruction. He was not duly humbled for his own sins, and was not willing to trust the Lord with his credit and safety. In this frame of mind, he overlooked the good of which he had been an instrument, and the glory of the Divine mercy. … Do I well to be so soon angry, so often angry, so long angry, and to give others ill language in my anger? Do I well to be angry at the mercy of God to repenting sinners? That was Jonah’s crime. Do we do well to be angry at that which is for the glory of God, and the advancement of his kingdom? Let the conversion of sinners, which is the joy of heaven, be our joy, and never our grief. – Mathew Henry Concise Commentary.
V. 1…displeased Jonah exceedingly… God’s gracious response to Nineveh displeased Jonah greatly.
In the previous episode (see 3:10) the pagans got rid of their “evil” and God got rid of the “disaster” he had threatened. The pagans are in harmony with God, but Jonah is not, as he alone is now characterized by “displeasure” – ESV Study Bible.
V. 2…prayed to the LORD… This is Jonah’s 3rd prayer (2nd recorded prayer). He prayed for God’s mercy to him in the implied first prayer from the bottom of the sea, and he praised and thanked God for His mercy.
…I know that you are a gracious and merciful God… Jonah angered by the mercy shown to the pagan non-covenantal people. He was taken away by his Nationalism/patriotism and misguided by his misguided theology on the CHARACTERISTICS OF GOD.
Divine purpose in the CALL OF ABRAHAM was localized into patriotism and nationalism. They failed to read Genesis 12:3, “…And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” They failed to see that all are created by God in ADAM, thus the entire creation/humanity is included in God’s great plan of Salvation.
Until Cornelius incident in Acts 10, the Apostles were not preaching the gospel to Gentiles. They were not able to see the provision of the mercies of God to Gentiles.
Later, the Gentile Christians boasted against the unrepentant Israelites. Paul warns the gentile Christians against boastfulness (Romans 11:17&18), pride (19-21) and presumption (22-24). While God will not overlook the sin of Israelites, God rejecting unbelieving Israelites is not final.
Also, Jonah knew the merciful character of God. But he did not want God to extend mercy to Ninivites. In Mathew Henry’s words this is a crime by Jonah to oppose God practicing HIS Mercy to a repentant Niniveh.
V. 3…take my life… Jonah prayed for his life and he was happy when the mercy was extended to him. Now, when the same mercy is extended to the repentant Ninevites, the grace he received is no more exciting one for him. And this time God did not answer his prayer to take his life.
V. 4…Is it right for you to be angry?… God was not angry at Jonah. The teaching aspect of this book is coming to light here and in the following passage. God want to teach the prophet of the LORD a lesson concerning the value of all men, both Israelites and non-Israelites, the width of the divine mercy. God wanted to bring Jonah to the right kind of theology.
Lesson through withering of a gourd (5-11):
This passage is the climax of the book to make the prophet of God to see as He sees thing. Looking through God’s eyes is very important to do HIS work joyfully. Ministry of the LORD is not about what we want to happen, but to say, “THY WILL BE DONE.”
Jonah’s faith in God was unwavering. He knew without a doubt who God was and that God would be true to His character. TRANSFORMING FAITH, however, is more than just knowledge about God. It changes us and molds us into the image of the One in Whom we place our trust, and it is expressed through our actions and our attitudes. Respond to God’s instruction with a willing heart that is open to change. By faith, receive the LORD’S instruction; and allow it to change the way you think, feel, and behave. – Spirit filled life Bible.
V. 5…went out of the city and on the east side…… Jonah went out of the city on the east side, yet stayed closer to the city hoping God will not relent but destroys the city. But God used that seclusion to correct him to understand God’s extended mercy to all people. What was our last EAST SIDE situation and what was the lesson we learned? Whether we like it or not, planed it or not, occasionally we do end up on EAST SIDE. Let us listen to God carefully.
V. 6…God prepared a plant… Remember: The plant that makes us happy and be grateful, is God sent for the purpose of teaching us a lesson. It did not come by itself but God prepared/appointed it. In Jonah 1:17, God has prepared/appointed a fish for Jonah. …to deliver him from his misery… Verse 5 suggests that it was hot and sunny. Jonah was in misery both outside by scorching sun, and the burning irritation inside.
…grateful for the plant… He was grateful when the relief for his misery came, but at the same time he wanted the un-covenant, yet repented souls to burn in misery.
V.7…God prepared a worm… The third preparation/appointment by God was the
V.8…God prepared a vehement east wind… This is fourth preparation/appointment. The east wind means a drying wind from the desert. A west wind would have had the coolness from the river. God did that not to punish Jonah, but to make him realize what the grace can mean to a soul in misery. …he wished death… Jonah is not yielding.
V. 9 …Is it right for you to be angry about he plant…As God had questioned the justice of Jonah’s anger over the salvation of the Ninevites (v. 4), he now questions the justice of Jonah’s anger over the destruction of the plant.
”…right for me to be angry, even to death!” This underscores the extent to which they Ninevites were Jonah’s enemy. Due to his bitterness and unforgiving spirit towards the Ninevites Jonah,
1. Deliberately disobeyed God (1:1-3),
2. Exercised and defended anger against God (4:4 & 9),
3. Wished for his own death (4:3,8, & 9),
4. Possibly allowed this extreme behavior to discredit him as a prophet.
V. 10…you have had pity on the plant…perished in a night… Finally, God made Jonah to express concern over the plant something which is perishing. God is drawing Jonah’s attention to compare the preciousness of plant vs. the preciousness of the soul. Jonah had concern over something perishing. But God has concern over the unperishable soul. Let us not have pity and be angry when perishable perishes. But we must have pity over the unperishable (soul) perishes without salvation.
V. 11…And should I not pity Nineveh…? This book ends with a question mark. We don’t know what Jonah’s answer was. What is our answer? Our answer may be the right one; but how about ourselves? Are we listening to the LORD’s call about the perishing souls? He reinforces the call often and in many ways. Do we hear HIS voice?
…who cannot discern between their right hand and their left… Ninevites, though not morally innocent, were helpless to know how to escape their plight before God. Without a prophet, they would remain trapped in their wickedness. Likewise, without preaching of the gospel, someone today might remain trapped in their wickedness.