- Jonah was really upset and angry.
- So he prayed: Our LORD, I knew from the very beginning that you wouldn't destroy Nineveh. That's why I left my own country and headed for Spain. You are a kind and merciful God, and you are very patient. You always show love, and you don't like to punish anyone, not even foreigners.
- Now let me die! I'd be better off dead.
- The LORD replied, "What right do you have to be angry?"
- Jonah then left through the east gate of the city and made a shelter to protect himself from the sun. He sat under the shelter, waiting to see what would happen to Nineveh.
- The LORD made a vine grow up to shade Jonah's head and protect him from the sun. Jonah was very happy to have the vine,
- but early the next morning the LORD sent a worm to chew on the vine, and the vine dried up.
- During the day the LORD sent a scorching wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah's head, making him feel faint. Jonah was ready to die, and he shouted, "I wish I were dead!"
- But the LORD asked, "Jonah, do you have the right to be angry about the vine?" "Yes, I do," he answered, "and I'm angry enough to die."
- But the LORD said: You are concerned about a vine that you did not plant or take care of, a vine that grew up in one night and died the next.
- In that city of Nineveh there are more than a hundred twenty thousand people who cannot tell right from wrong, and many cattle are also there. Don't you think I should be concerned about that big city?
Jonah's request for God to take his life would have been a bit melodramatic if he were not serious. First he prayed for God to spare his life from the belly of the fish, and now he prayed that God would take it. It is hard to imagine such dislike for a people.
Jonah went outside the city to observe its fate, fabricating himself a shelter to provide shade. There, in his temporary shelter, God gave him an object lesson by causing a plant to grow up overnight large enough to provide even better shade for Jonah than did his shelter. Jonah was very pleased with the plant and the shade it gave him. But as the sun was rising the next day God sent a worm to attack the plant, causing it to wither, while also sending a scorching east wind to beat down on Jonah, increasing his discomfort after loosing his shade.
Again, Jonah wanted to die. Then God drove home His point. Jonah had greater compassion for a plant which had existed only a few hours. A plant which Jonah had had no part in tending, offering nothing toward its existence. On the other hand, God had given life to the Ninevites as well as to the animals. He had cared for them and grieved over their rebellion. Should it not pain God to consider their destruction? What right did Jonah have to consider his own life, let alone his own comfort, more important than the lives of the Ninevites?
How like the attitudes of many toward God. Wrapped up in his own little world with little concern for anything or anyone besides himself, Jonah had no clue of God's perspective, yet he angrily questioned God's actions and decisions.