Jonah Gets Angry

As a passenger boarded the Los Angeles-to-New York plane, he told the flight attendant to wake him and make sure he got off in Dallas. The passenger awoke just as the plane was landing in New York. Furious, he called the flight attendant and demanded an explanation. The fellow m … More


Jonah preached as he was commanded, but he did not rejoice that the Ninevites were saved. He had been whipped into preaching to the people of Nineveh, but his own personal attitude toward the people of the city remained unchanged. Instead of being pleased and praising God for His grace to Nineveh and for the success of his ministry, Jonah was very angry (v. 1). He told God that he knew from the beginning He wouldn’t destroy Nineveh and that is the reason he headed for Spain (v. 2).

Perhaps Jonah’s pride was hurt because he had become the laughing stock of the people. His reputation as a prophet was damaged and he would be ridiculed for prophesying something that did not occur. However, it is more likely that his basic problem stemmed from his personal hatred of Nineveh and the Ninevites. He was still afflicted with a false Jewish nationalism and hatred of all non-Jews and especially the Assyrians. He knew that Assyria was Israel’s bitter enemy, and he could not reconcile himself to warning these people of God’s wrath.

Once we know why Jonah fled, we are better able to know why he was angry. He was angry enough to die (v. 3). In fact, he was so miserable that as far as he was concerned, death would have been better for him then to live. God asks Jonah a question, “"What right do you have to be angry” (v. 4)? It shows that God was concerned with the righteous or ethical quality of Jonah’s anger. Jonah then left through the east gate of the city and made a shelter to protect himself from the sun (v. 5). He sat under the shelter, waiting to see what would happen to Nineveh.


If I tend to feel angry because things are not going my way I need to take my eyes off myself and put them on the Lord and think about how I can help others.

Jonah 4:1-5 (English Standard Version)

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the LORD and said, "O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live." And the LORD said, "Do you do well to be angry?" Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city.

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