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Jonah Four

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Jonah 4:1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.

displeased Jonah. Although Jonah himself had repented of his disobedience and had preached in Nineveh as God had commanded, he had not yet repented of his attitude toward the Assyrians, preferring their destruction to their conversion! That was why he tried to flee to Tarshish in the first place (Jonah 4:2). He knew from the prophecies of his contemporary, Hosea, that the Assyrians would eventually conquer and deport his people into Assyria (e.g., Hosea 9:3), and he harbored an intense hatred of them as a nation. He was willing to proclaim coming destruction to them, but not salvation.

Jonah 4:2 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.

Jonah 4:3 Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.

Jonah 4:4 Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?

Jonah 4:5 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.

Jonah 4:6 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.

prepared a gourd. There are a number of fast-growing plants in the deserts of the Middle East, and commentators disagree as to the botanical identity of this “gourd.” None, however, would grow to such a height overnight, so this plant, like the fish, must be understood as miraculous. The worm which (like the fish and the gourd) had also been “prepared” by God (Jonah 4:7), must likewise have possessed miraculous abilities, to produce an overnight disintegration of such a large shade plant. The “vehement east wind” (Jonah 4:8) was also prepared by God, making Jonah so conscious of God's concern and power with regard to his animal and plant creations, that he could finally appreciate God's concern even for the pagan Assyrians.

Jonah 4:7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.

Jonah 4:8 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.

Jonah 4:9 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.

Jonah 4:10 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:

Jonah 4:11 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?

right hand. This reference indicates there were 120,000 little children in Nineveh, in addition to the adolescents and adults, and God cared for them. Even though the Assyrians were mortal enemies of Israel, yet these chosen people of God needed to remember that God's original promise to their father Abraham had included a promise that, through them, all nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3). Their promised Messiah was also to be “a light to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 49:6).

cattle. God is concerned not only about all people but also all His animal creatures—even sparrows (Matthew 10:29). Most of God's remarkable monologue to Job, for example, deals with His providential care of the animal kingdom (Job 38:39-41:34).