J O N A H.
We read, with a great deal of pleasure, in the
close of the foregoing chapter, concerning the repentance of
Nineveh; but in this chapter we read, with a great deal of
uneasiness, concerning the sin of Jonah; and, as there is joy in
heaven and earth for the conversion of sinners, so there is grief
for the follies and infirmities of saints. In all the book of God
we scarcely find a "servant of the Lord" (and such a one we are
sure Jonah was, for the scripture calls him so) so very much out of
temper as he is here, so very peevish and provoking to God himself.
In the first chapter we had him fleeing from the face of God; but
here we have him, in effect, flying in the face of God; and, which
is more grieving to us, there we had an account of his repentance
and return to God; but here, though no doubt he did repent, yet, as
in Solomon's case, no account is left us of his recovering himself;
but, while we read with wonder of his perverseness, we read with no
less wonder of God's tenderness towards him, by which it appeared
that he had not cast him off. Here is, I. Jonah's repining at God's
mercy to Nineveh, and the fret he was in about it, ver. 1-3. II. The gentle reproof God
gave him for it, ver. 4.
III. Jonah's discontent at the withering of the gourd, and his
justifying himself in that discontent, ver. 5-9. IV. God's improving it for his
conviction, that he ought not to be angry at the sparing of
Nineveh, ver. 10-11.
Man's badness and God's goodness serve here for a foil to each
other, that the former may appear the more exceedingly sinful and
the latter the more exceedingly gracious.