But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. So he prayed to the LORD, and said, “Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”
Then the LORD said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city. And the LORD God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant. But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered. And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”
Then God said to Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?"
And he said, "It is right for me to be angry, even to death!"
But the LORD said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”
Jonah doesn’t like this whole ‘mercy and love and no-overthrowing’ thing between God and Nineveh. He didn’t mind it when he was getting it, of course. But now that other people are getting God’s love, Jonah doesn’t like it.
He got into this two-year-old type pouting, and went all suicidal on God. God’s response to this? ‘You pitied the plant that I gave you, and I’m not allowed to pity this city of 120,000 people? How does that work?’ (very very paraphrased).
This is mentioned in the New Testament too. God won’t forgive us of our sins if we won’t forgive others, like in the story of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:23-35). Matthew 18:35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (thrown to torturers.)
Jonah taught us a little lesson today about the forgiveness and compassion of God. Just because the Goth kid who sits next to us in English has more metal in his face than the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz doesn’t mean we should be angry when he realizes who God is. We should be excited! Just because others who we don’t like or think deserve it (think Prodigal Son) receive the same mercy we did, doesn’t mean we can be angry at God!
I needed a little help with my own understanding on this verse, so I googled ‘Jonah chapter 4 commentary’ and this popped up. Very good resource! http://www.searchgodsword.org/com/jfb/view.cgi?book=jon&chapter=004
Let your light shine!
In His Service,