But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.
Just when Jonah had felt the delight of the shadowing foliage, and had begun to promise himself a most comfortable retreat against an Assyrian sun, the broad-leaved gourd withered. What caused this calamity? A worm. No, that is not all. God prepared the worm. But He also prepared the gourd. Does He, then, build up in order to destroy? Does He give comfort to His creatures in order to torment them by its removal?
I. GOD IS THE AUTHOR OF AFFLICTION. God asserts in His Word, that all the losses in the world are sent by Him. By evil is often meant calamity, not wickedness. God is the Author equally of prosperity and adversity to His creatures. He uses agents, but we must not forget that He is behind them. He is the Author of affliction, whatever may be the agencies He uses in the course of His providence.
II. HE USES THE NATURAL LAWS OF THE WORLD AS HIS AGENTS IN AFFLICTING. The worm merely followed the impulses of its nature. That is all science can say. But God has made all things, however great, however small, for Himself. The things which we call laws are only the methods of His activity, Nature is a forlorn object to study unless we find it a mirror to reflect God.
IV. GOD IS JUST IN AFFLICTING US. Simply as the Maker and Owner of His creatures, God has a right to afflict. But He has entered into a covenant with us. lie has said, "Do ye according to My commandments, and ye shall live." What is the record of our race since? Have we obeyed, or have we disobeyed? Surely we have come into the need of affliction. If God would be just in casting us down to hell for our disobedience, surely He is just in laying upon us disciplinary afflictions.
IV. GOD AFFLICTS US IN HIS LOVE. With all Jonah's sins against God, it was not to punish him that God prepared a worm. God's aim in affliction is our restoration, our improvement. There are uses of adversity. However harsh the voice of God may seem to us, it is yet a Father's voice, with a Father's heart behind it. Inferences —
1. If God afflicts, how foolish it is to go to the world for relief.
2. God's worms for us prove an interesting study.
3. When our gourds wither it is proof that God is near.
(Howard Crosby, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.