Then said the LORD, Do you well to be angry?
With what strange feelings of disappointment must every one rise from the perusal of this chapter! For Jonah fails again under his disappointment. What was it that displeased Jonah? The salvation of the sinners of Nineveh who repented. The grace of God manifested in the salvation of Nineveh. With the Divine purposes of grace he had no sympathy. He was displeased because he was not a minister of wrath to sinners. But how does he give vent to his displeasure? In prayer to God. He upbraids God for being a gracious God, merciful, slow to anger, and of great compassion, and for having resolved to manifest this grace of His character in the salvation of this great city. For what does he pray? For death to himself, unless God would give up Nineveh and its inhabitants to death and destruction. This is the thing which he says in his heart's desire and prayer before God. Jonah even seems to say that he has not repented of going to Tarshish, but rather, in his present mood. repents of returning and going to Nineveh, after he received the second call. What is this but to say that he repents of his repentance? Every feeling was sacrificed to resentment at the non-fulfilment of his prophecy. If forty days passed and Nineveh were not overthrown, what would men say of Jonah and his prophecies? He would have sacrificed Nineveh to a point of honour, to a feeling of pride or vanity, to a thought of personal interest or aggrandisement, to public opinion, or national bigotry and sectarian spite. Such is selfishness when it stands up barefaced to proclaim itself in all its nakedness before God. Now admire the forbearance of God. All He said in answer to this prayer of mixed pride and petulance was, "Doest thou well to be angry?" God is not angry, though Jonah is angry. But a rebuke is not the less severe that it is administered in a spirit of mild and gentle love; and such surely is the spirit in which God deals with Jonah's conscience; not answering the fool according to his folly. With this question, like an arrow stuck in his spirit, God leaves the angry man to himself. Jonah gave no answer. Anger is sullen, and sullenness is silent. He went out to the east of the city, made a booth to shelter himself from the sun, and over this a large-leafed gourd quickly grew. Jonah began to be better pleased. The next day the gourd withered, and Jonah was exposed and distressed. Then God asked His question again, "Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd?" Now Jonah's vexation rises; he justifies his anger, and says to God that he has good cause to be offended, and even weary of life. Then God interpreted the sudden withering of the gourd. Out of his own mouth Jonah was judged He was pitiful towards a gourd, and complained of God's being pitiful towards myriads of immortal souls. God silences all cavil respecting His present work of providence; He sets at rest all controversy respecting His purpose of grace to sinners, like the men of Nineveh, by an appeal to Jonah's own conscience. And Jonah is speechless. Learn —
1. That in the end God's purpose of grace in the salvation of sinners will be justified.
2. Want of sympathy with God's purpose of grace and salvation to sinners is a common sin.
3. This want of sympathy betrays itself, in selfishness like Jonah's, in self-seeking, self-pleasing, self-indulgence.
4. God is still rebuking this sin of selfishness, or want of sympathy, as He rebuked Jonah here, both in His Word, and in His providence.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?