The Lesson

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.  But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.  And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.  And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd?  And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.  Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle.

Jonah 4:6-11

Jonah was “very displeased” and “angry” that the Lord had shown mercy to the people of Nineveh.  And, like we mentioned, God did destroy him for that terrible attitude.  Instead, God again chose to teach Jonah a lesson.  First, He caused a gourd to grow over Jonah to give him some shade from the heat of the day.  Then, He sent a worm to kill the gourd.  The gourd withered, and Jonah was stricken by the heat of the sun.  Again, Jonah said that it was better for him to die than to live.  And again, God asked him, “Doest thou well to be angry…?”  This time, Jonah said “I do well to be angry, even unto death.”

Jonah told God that, not only was he right to be angry over the gourd, but he was right to be angry to the death over the gourd.  Then God drove the lesson home in verse 10 and 11.  Jonah loved the gourd and was thankful for it because it helped him and gave him a little comfort.  But he didn’t love the multitudes of people in Nineveh had just been spared.  What a sad commentary.  What an even sadder commentary that we are so often like Jonah in this regard.  We can go day after day without caring about the people for whom Christ died, but we all worked up when some minor thing that makes our lives easier has a problem.  Our car won’t start; our washing machine starts making a funny noise; the mail is late; our tv show gets canceled.  Those things are the things that sometimes irritate us and make us angry.  That is because we have a love for ourselves, and not a love for others.

Jonah was “angry to death” over this gourd, yet didn’t care about people.  What is the “gourd” in our lives?

4 responses to this post.

  1. Ben, thank you so much for taking the time to go over this and explaining it so well. I find myself a little taken aback at Jonah’s reply to God! I’m cringing for him! And then to apply this to myself, about what upsets me . . .and what should be upsetting to me.
    God bless you and yours!


    • It’s a tough one. The thing that encourages me is that, even though Jonah responded terribly, God was still working on him and trying to teach him something. We are all going to fail from time to time, but God is always trying to work in us and on us!


  2. Thanks Ben

    Very good post!

    You ask a very pertinent question … What is the gourd indeed? “search me o God!”



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