Jonah 4 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Jonah 4)

Verse 1

[1] But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.

It — The divine forbearance sparing Nineveh.

Verse 2

[2] And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.

Was not this — Did I not think of this? That thy pardon would contradict my preaching.

Verse 3

[3] Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.

Than to live — Disgraced and upbraided by hardened sinners, who will brand me for a liar.

Verse 5

[5] So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.

A booth — Some small and mean shed, probably of green boughs.

'Till he might see — It seems the forty days were not fully expired.

Verse 6

[6] And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.

Prepared — Commanded that in the place where Jonah's booth stood, this spreading plant should spring up to be a shade when the gathered boughs were withered.

To deliver — To give some ease to his mind.

Verse 7

[7] But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.

Prepared — By the same power which caused the gourd suddenly to spring, and spread itself.

It smote — Which early next morning, bit the root, so that the whole gourd withered.

Verse 8

[8] And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

A east wind — A dry, scorching, blasting wind.

Fainted — Overcome by the heat.

Better to die — But Jonah must be wiser, and humbler, and more merciful too, e'er he die. Before God hath done with him, he will teach him to value his own life more, and to be more tender of the life of others.

Verse 9

[9] And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.

I do well to be angry — If in the violence of this passion I should die (as some have) yet were I not to blame. What a speech! Verily the law made nothing perfect!

Verse 10

[10] Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:

Laboured — Thou didst not set it.

Grow — Nor didst thou water or give growth to it.

Verse 11

[11] And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

I — The God of infinite compassions and goodness.

That great city — Wouldest thou have me less merciful to such a goodly city, than thou art to a weed? Who cannot discern - Here are more than six-score innocents who are infants.

Much cattle — Beside men, women and children who are in Nineveh, there are many other of my creatures that are not sinful, and my tender mercies are and shall be over all my works. If thou wouldest be their butcher, yet I will be their God. Go Jonah, rest thyself content and be thankful: that goodness, which spared Nineveh, hath spared thee in this thy inexcusable frowardness. I will be to repenting Nineveh what I am to thee, a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and I will turn from the evil which thou and they deserve.