But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.…
There "sat" Jonah, watching, displeased with the Ninevites' preservation, grieved at the gentle dealings of their Preserver. And God's only rebuke of him was the gentle question, "Doest thou well to be angry?" In his mood and conduct let us read our own.
I. OUR DISPLEASURE. Have we never been displeased with God's ways? It may have been as patriots. It is easy to be resigned to judgments that come upon our country's enemies. We must beware - beware lest we encourage in ourselves the belief that the great work of God among nations today is to do all for the glory of England. Jonah was displeased that his country's enemies should be spared. Yet God spared them. In our own personal history have we never been displeased with God? - displeased that prosperity has been denied us, who could so wisely have used it? displeased that losses and afflictions have impoverished us, when they seemed so much more needed by others who have been free from them? displeased to lose our one child, when in other homes the many are spared? displeased, it may be, that even the one has been denied us? Have we never charged God foolishly?
II. OUR GRIEF. Jonah was "very grieved" that the Ninevites should be spared. Better, he deemed, that. they should perish. Better for Israel thus to be quit of an enemy. Better for God, as thus vindicating his righteousness. Better for Jonah himself - thus accredited as a prophet of truth. Grieved; but what is he doing with his memory? He, such a sinner against the light, had been spared; then why not these repentant heathen? Ungrateful Jonah! But why wonder at him? Have we not forgotten the Divine goodness? Have we not been grieved at God's dealings? Even in his work how thwarted! How little credit do we get to what we expected! And the work does not prosper in our way. Have we never been grieved, angry, with God? - that that great and good man should be taken away in the midst of his days? that that youth of high promise should be cut down when the bright bud was just showing the brilliant flower? that God's work, where most successful, should be threatened with hindrance and be hindered? that our work for him should be obstructed, and we get so little commendation for it when we had deemed we deserved it so much? Grieved - and therein the evil - by regarding God as at fault.
III. OUR WAYWARD PRAYER. Jonah longed to die. His work seemed to fail because Nineveh was spared. Fail? No; it was a transcendently glorious success. A sublime and ever memorable proof of the Divine mercy. An abiding encouragement to all coming workers for God. So our work, when we count it a failure, may in God's eyes be "not in vain." How we bear ourselves in severe trials of faith will show what spirit and character we are of. Let no wayward prayer be ours. In our peevishness and distrust and vexation God says, "Doest thou well to be angry?" He is ever right, His way is perfect. "Consider Jesus, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." What is our grief to his?
"O brothers, let us leave the shame and sin
Of taking vainly, in a plaintive mood,
The holy name of grief! - holy herein,
That, by the grief of One, came all our good." As with him so with us - the way of the cross is the way to the crown. - G.T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.