And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head…
Welcome was the broad shadow of the gourd rising round the booth and above it! The great glare in subdued green light streamed through the leaves to the calmed and cooled and comforted prophet. Just now he wished to die. Now he was willing to live - "exceeding glad of the gourd." Short-lived was his gladness. Worm-smitten, the gourd withered. A day of beauty and value, and then the end of it. And now, unsheltered by the plant, exposed to branding sun and burning wind, Jonah longed again to die. Note here: Divine discipline. The gourd, worm, wind, divinely sent, have each a ministry for the prophet. He needs correction if he is to amend. They are to teach him. But such is the Divine pitifulness that there comes -
I. THE LESSON OF REFRESHMENT. There was sent the gourd "to deliver him from his grief." He needed a shadow. It was given, and the plant shielded him from the oppressive, life-exhausting heat. The gloom of his mind had been increased by the heat of the booth; the outer had aggravated the inner weariness. In the coolness of the gourd he was calmed and soothed. The mind affects the body, and the body the mind. "Heaviest the heart is in a heavy air." Much mental and even spiritual depression must be put to the account of physical causes. Jonah sheltered was cheered and refreshed; gloom became gladness. Did he rejoice in the gourd? How, then, must God rejoice to spare his human creatures! And did Jonah meanwhile, "glad of the gourd," with, we may hope, thankfulness to God for it, think that after all God was favourable to his bitter longing for the punishment if not utter destruction of Nineveh though repentant? If so, he thought wrongly. Outward prosperity is no proof of the Divine approval. In doing wrong, in feeling wrong, all may seem to go well with us; still, it is none the less wrong. Are we in accordance with Divine truth and righteousness - our will in harmony with the Divine? Then all providences are in reality friendly, and "even the night is light about us."
II. THE LESSON OF BEREAVEMENT. Did Jonah pity, miss, and mourn for the gourd? Shall not God have pity on the myriads in Nineveh? That was the lesson of his loss to the prophet. But how reluctant to learn it! We may be bereaved of our strength, competence, loved ones. Ah! how God is bereaved! "Shall a man rob God?" What multitudes do - of their love, loyalty, service! He appeals to each. "How can I give thee up?" he says. He may take away his gifts. It is the more fully to give us himself. All earthly gourds will wither. But for all who will, there is an abiding shelter from every storm; a living shelter - Christ, in him, though the tempests come of sorrow, bereavement, death, we have peace, safety, and eternal life. - G.T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.