The Story of Jonah

Chapter 4

Jonah repining at God's mercy, 1-3, is reproved by the type of a gourd, 4-11.

1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly and he was very angry. 2 And he prayed to the LORD and said, "I pray you, O LORD, was this not my saying when I was yet in my country? Therefore, I fled before to Tarshish. For I knew that you are a gracious God, merciful, slow to anger, of great kindness, and repenting of the evil. 3 Now therefore, O LORD, take, I implore you, my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live." 4 Then the LORD said, "Do you do well to be angry?"

5 So Jonah went out of the city, sat on the east side of the city, made himself a booth there, and sat under it in the shade until he might see what would become of the city. 6 And the LORD God prepared a gourd and made it to come up over Jonah so that it might be a shade over his head to deliver him from his grief. Thus Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the gourd. 7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd so that it withered. 8 And it came to pass, when the sun rose, that God prepared a vehement east wind. And the sun beat upon the head of Jonah so that he fainted and wished in himself to die, and said, "It is better for me to die than to live."

9 And God said to Jonah, "Do you do well to be angry because of the gourd?" And he said, "I do well to be angry, even to death." 10 Then the LORD said, "You have had pity on the gourd, for which you have not labored, neither made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not spare Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand—and also many cattle?"


Matthew Henry Commentary - Jonah, Chapter 4[➚]


John Gill's Chapter Summary:

This chapter gives us an account of Jonah's displeasure at the repentance of the Ninevites, and at the Lord's showing mercy to them (verse 1); the angry prayer of Jonah upon it (verses 2-3); the Lord's gentle reproof of him for it (verse 4); his conduct upon that (verse 5); the gourd prepared for him; its rise, usefulness, and destruction, which raised different passions in Jonah (verses 6-8); the improvement the Lord made of this to rebuke Jonah, for his dissatisfaction at the mercy he showed to the Ninevites, and to convict him of his folly (verses 9-11).

[v.2] - "you are a gracious God, merciful, slow to anger, of great kindness" - Reference, Exodus 33:19.

[v.4] - "Do you do well to be angry?" - In other words, "Are you greatly angry?", or, "Is anger good for you?" To put it another way, it is as if God is telling Jonah, "You have sinned by being angry like this."

[v.6a] - "gourd" - Hebrew: קיקיון (kee-kaw-yone')—commonly translated as either gourd, plant, or vine. It is not certain what this gourd really is. There is a surprising variety of explanations of this gourd, each with their own view as to what it is. I think Matthew Poole has the best comment to be made here concerning the gourd. He said, "nor is it very material we should search further into the nature of this [Hebrew word] in the text, it was some wild plant with long and broad leaves, which suddenly grew, spread itself, and made a good shade." John Owen gave a more concise, but equally direct, explanation when he said, "God prepared it, and prepared it to shelter Jonah."

[v.6b] - "exceeding glad" - Literally, "rejoiced with great joy."

[v.9] - "I do well to be angry" - In other words, "I am greatly angry."