Jonah's Gourd; or the Vanity of All Earthly Enjoyments
Jonah 4:6
And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head…

There is that in the conduct of Jonah which claims our pity and provokes our resentment; especially when we see him have more regard for his own honour than for the lives of so many thousands that know not their right hand from their left. Perhaps, in passing our censure upon him, we shall condemn ourselves. Is it an uncommon thing, to find Christians in the same spirit? The history records an instance of God s pity in the provision of the gourd. But the swiftly growing plant more swiftly faded. This reminds us of the vanity of all earthly enjoyments. What are they, even the best of them, but as the gourd that grew up in a night and perished in a night? We refer to those pleasures which have their root in corruption and luxury. But it is also true of those enjoyments which are consistent with virtue and piety. Which of them can afford us more than a momentary delight? Mutability is the characteristic of all things under the sun. The scene is ever shifting, and like the vagaries of a dream, which only appear to amuse for a moment, and then are gone. Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. He set great store by it, more than by the lives of all the inhabitants of Nineveh. And how apt are we, like him, to overrate our comforts! We forget that our happiness has its root in the earth. There lurks a worm at the root of every gourd. Sin has marred our happiness and given the death-sting to all our comforts. Sometimes our enjoyments are our punishments. Where is the heart that does not ache at the loss of some earthly good? The same God who prepared the gourd prepared the worm. The hand of God is to be acknowledged in all our pleasures, and in all our so-called calamities. He does not measure His kindness by our merit. Blessings that come in the ordinary way deserve our sincere acknowledgments; much more should we be thankful for undeserved favours. But we often complain of the evils we suffer that God sends to us. We look to second causes, and fret as though there were no God to rule in the earth. There cannot be good or evil without the Divine permission. The gourd grew up in a night; might not this circumstance have taught Jonah to expect it as suddenly to decay? Pleasures that are quick in their growth seldom last long. The vanity and uncertainty of all our earthly enjoyments show us that error lies somewhere, and where should we look for it but in the nature of man? Whence is man's misery but from his inordinate attachment to the creature? God Himself is our only end. Let our trims remind us of our sins, and we shall see in the end that God has been correcting us for our profit, that compassion has guided the rod to recall us to our proper resting-place. Here we learn the importance of religious principle. Without it, what can we do in a changing world where all perishes in the using, and is sometimes blasted by the touch? Religion will produce a satisfaction in the mind which no evil can disturb; let the worm destroy, let the gourd wither, let all natural things take their course, or perish by violence, yet the well-principled man shall be happy without them all, for none of these things are essential to his bliss; having God for his portion and choice, he is blessed.

(Owen Morris.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: Yahweh God prepared a vine, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to deliver him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the vine.

Jonah's Gourd
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