But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish…
Though the Israelites were the elect people, the mercy of God was continually extending itself beyond them. He would from time to time send prophets and messengers to turn them from their idols, to reveal to them the knowledge of Himself, and bring them to repentance. Jonah resisted the call of God, and refused to go to Nineveh. Why did he refuse to go? Because he thought God would spare the Ninevites after he, His prophet, had proclaimed their ruin, and he shrank from the supposed humiliation of appearing in their eyes a false prophet. He shrank from the sensitiveness of a proud nature. Another reason has been suggested, that he passionately loved his country, and feared the uprising of this powerful nation on its borders. It is said that Jonah fled "unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord." Is it possible that he thought by a change of place to get beyond the reach of the Divine displeasure? It is more probable that he fled from "the service of God." He meant to abandon his prophetic office. He was faithless to his vocation, and would cast off the responsibility of a high calling. Dwell on this unfaithfulness, and draw lessons from it. Are we not, each of us, like Jonah, called to stand in the presence of God and to serve Him? We have each certain duties and responsibilities, as clear and definite as the prophet had when he heard the Word of God, bidding him go to Tarshish. We too may flee from the presence of God. Our calling may require effort and hardness, and we shrink from it. Jonah is the image of every man who, knowing the command of God, gives up the path of duty, choosing in preference something more congenial to his tastes and disposition, or some passing feeling, some desire or fear. The call of duty will constantly involve giving up some interest or pleasure. Some trouble one meets in daily life may try the soul and test its faithfulness. It is always true that only he who doeth the will of the Father can enter the kingdom.
(T. T. Carter.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.
WEB: But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of Yahweh. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid its fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of Yahweh.