Chapter 4

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, Jonah 4:1-3. II. The gentle reproof God gave him for it, Jonah 4:4. III. Jonah’s discontent at the withering of the gourd, and his justifying himself in that discontent, Jonah 4:5-9. IV. God’s improving it for his conviction, that he ought not to be angry at the sparing of Nineveh, Jonah 4:10-11. 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.