Jonah 4:4-9. Doest thou well to be angry? What a mild reproof was this from God, for such a passionate behaviour as Jonah manifested! Here the prophet experienced that Jehovah was a gracious God, merciful, and slow to anger. Here we learn by the highest example, that of God himself, how mild and gentle we ought to be if we would be like him, even to those who carry themselves toward us in the most unreasonable and unjustifiable manner. So Jonah went out of the city The words should rather have been rendered, Now Jonah had gone out of the city: for the particulars related in the foregoing verses took place after his departing out of the city, and sitting somewhere in view of it, expecting some extraordinary judgment to come upon it; but being disappointed, he broke out into that expostulation with God already mentioned. We may observe, in this book, several instances of facts related first, and then the manner how these facts were brought about explained afterward. And sat on the east side of the city Probably in a place where he could best see the city; and there made him a booth A little cot, or shed of twigs. Or, a shelter, as Bishop Newcome translates the word, observing, that it signifies both an artificial cover, such as a tent, or booth, and also a natural one, as Job 38:40; Jeremiah 25:38, where it is used of the covert of a lion. The LXX. render it σκηνη , a tent; and the Vulgate, umbraculum, a little shed. And the Lord prepared a gourd This is supposed to be spoken of a shrub growing in Palestine, bearing broad and very thick leaves, so that it affords a great shade. Bochart, Hiller, and Celsius say, that the ricinus, or palma- christi, is here meant; a supposition which is favoured by its height, which is that of the olive, the largeness of its leaves, which are like those of the vine, and the quickness of its growth: see Pliny, Nat. Hist., lib. 15. cap. 7. Whatever kind of plant it was that shaded Jonah, we may justly attribute a miraculous growth to it. Indeed the relation in the text evidently supposes that, saying that God made it to come up over Jonah: that it might be a shadow, &c., to deliver him from his grief That is, from the inconvenience which he felt from the heat. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd As vehement in his joy now as in his grief before. His passions were strong, and easily moved by trifling events, whether of an agreeable or disagreeable nature. We are not told that Jonah saw the hand of God in this plant’s rising up so suddenly to shelter him, or that he was thankful to God for it. But God prepared That is, sent, or excited, a worm By the same power which caused the gourd suddenly to spring up and spread itself. And it smote the gourd Early next morning it bit the root, so that the whole gourd withered. And when the sun did arise That is, when it was got to some height; for the day-break is spoken of before, and this seems to signify some space of time after that: besides, the sun’s being described as beating on the head of Jonah, shows that an advance in the day is here intended; God prepared a vehement east wind The winds in the hot countries, when they blow from the sandy deserts, are oftentimes more suffocating than the heat of the sun, and they make the sun-beams give a more intense heat. The sun beat upon the head of Jonah that he fainted Was overpowered by the heat, and ready to faint. And wished himself to die As he had done before; and said, It is better for me to die than to live But Jonah must be made more wise, humble, and compassionate too, before it will be better for him to die than to live. And before God hath done with him, he will teach him to value his own life more, and to be more tender of the lives of others. And God said, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? For an insignificant, short-lived plant? God adds this circumstance to the question before proposed, that Jonah might be his own judge, and at once condemn his own passions, justify God’s patience and mercy, and acquiesce with satisfaction in God’s merciful dealings with the inhabitants of Nineveh. And he said, I do well to be angry When a similar question was asked before, he was silent; but now he is out of all patience, and quarrels openly and rudely with God, who had spared Nineveh, which Jonah thought ought to have been consumed as Sodom, or as the old world was. Even unto death I have just cause to be angry, even to that degree as to wish myself dead. The prophet here records his own sin, without concealing any circumstance of it, as Moses and other holy writers have done.
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