Jonah chapter 4

Jonah is angry. The LORD God explains.





VERSE 1. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.

Jonah had reluctantly preached to the people in the foreign city of Nineveh.

Surprisingly, they heeded his message. They fell to the ground in repentance. They observed a total fast from food and drink. They called out to the LORD God with loud cries and tears.

God’s mercy prevailed and 120,000 people were spared.

However, Jonah rejects and the goodness of God to the Ninevites. He is angry about this great manifestation of God’s mercy.

Why should the LORD God be so recklessly generous with his mercy? Why couldn’t God be more cruel?

Jonah thinks that God is too merciful, and that the people of Nineveh didn’t get what they deserve.

However, it is not Jonah’s judgmentalism, but God’s mercy that triumphs.

Who gets counted in, but Jonah and the 120,000 people of Nineveh, and me and you?


VERSE 2. He prayed to the LORD, and said, “Please, LORD, wasn’t this what I said when I was still in my own country? Therefore I hurried to flee to Tarshish, for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness, and you relent of doing harm.

Therefore I hurried to flee to Tarshish. Jonah did not want to be an agent of God’s mercy.

He didn’t want the Ninevites to be saved from divine judgment.

Jonah was called to be an ambassador of compassion. But he had no compassion for the people he was sent to.

gracious God and merciful. Jonah knew the LORD God is forgiving.


VERSE 3. Therefore now, LORD, take, I beg you, my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

it is better for me to die than to live. Jonah does not want to live in a world where God’s mercy extends to Nineveh.


VERSE 4. The LORD said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

Is it right for you to be angry? Jonah has no right to be angry.

Jonah is so distraught that he does not reply to the Most High God.


VERSE 5. Then Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city, and there made himself a booth and sat under it in the shade, until he might see what would become of the city.

made himself a booth. Jonah built a shelter, possibly from tree branches.

until he might see what would become of the city. Given Jonah’s childish attitude, we wonder if Jonah is hoping the city will be incinerated.

There was a moment where James and John had an attitude that was not much different:

Luke 9:54. When his disciples, James and John, saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from the sky, and destroy them, just as Elijah did?”




VERSE 6. The LORD God prepared a vine and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the vine.

Jonah was exceedingly glad. Now that he has shade, Jonah, is overjoyed.

Jonah is glad for his own comfort, but not for the salvation of Nineveh.


VERSE 7. But God prepared a worm at dawn the next day, and it chewed on the vine so that it withered.


VERSE 8. When the sun arose, God prepared a sultry east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he was faint and requested for himself that he might die. He said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

requested for himself that he might die. Jonah is so upset about the lack of shade that he wants to be killed.


VERSE 9. God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the vine?” He said, “I am right to be angry, even to death.”

I am right to be angry, even to death. Jonah is in a terrible mental state.


VERSE 10. The LORD said, “You have been concerned for the vine, for which you have not labored, neither made it grow; which came up in a night and perished in a night.


VERSE 11. Shouldn’t I be concerned for Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred twenty thousand persons who can’t discern between their right hand and their left hand, and also many animals?”

more than one hundred twenty thousand persons. The population of Nineveh was more than 120,000 people.

who can’t discern between their right hand and their left. What does this refer to?

It might refer to young children. If so, there were 120,000 children. If so, there were perhaps 600,000 people total.

Or it might refer to illiterate adults. If so, adding children, there were perhaps 300,000 people total.


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CHAPTERS: 01, 02, 03, 04

RESOURCES: Summary, Outline

Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.