Jonah 4:1-4 (New International Version)
But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
When Jonah was being carried inside the fish, he had praised God for sparing his life in such a miraculous way. But now, just a few days later, he is ready to throw it all away again. “It is better for me to die than to live.” Wow! That is quite a desperate sentiment!
So what brought on this dramatic outburst? Jonah finally admits why he tried to run away to Tarshish. This is the first time we hear the reason for his abrupt rebellion. As soon as he heard God’s voice back in chapter one, Jonah knew it was possible that his compassionate and gracious God would forgive the Ninevites — and Jonah wanted no part of that!
According to The New Interpreter’s Bible: “Whereas some prophets shrank from preaching because they saw no hope, Jonah refuses because he knows there is hope. Whereas some prophets complained about the wrath of God, Jonah protests the love of God.”
So ironic. Because it is exactly God’s forgiving and compassionate nature that has kept Jonah alive, even in his disobedience.
When have you been upset by witnessing the good fortune of someone you didn’t particularly like?