on Jonah 4 :1
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly - This hasty, and indeed inconsiderate prophet, was vexed because his prediction was not fulfilled. He had more respect to his high sense of his own honor than he had to the goodness and mercy of God. He appeared to care little whether six hundred and twenty thousand persons were destroyed or not, so he might not pass for a deceiver, or one that denounced a falsity.
And he was very angry - Because the prediction was not literally fulfilled; for he totally lost sight of the condition.
on Jonah 4 :1
And Jonah was displeased exceedingly - It was an untempered zeal. The prophet himself records it as such, and how he was reproved for it. He would, like many of us, govern God's world better than God Himself. Short-sighted and presumptuous! Yet not more short-sighted than those who, in fact, quarrel with God's Providence, the existence of evil, the baffling of good, "the prison walls of obstacles and trials," in what we would do for God's glory. What is all discontent, but anger with God? The marvel is that the rebel was a prophet ! "What he desired was not unjust in itself, that the Ninevites should be punished for their past sins, and that the sentence of God pronounced against them should not be recalled, although they repented. For so the judge hangs the robber for theft, however he repent." He sinned, in that he disputed with God. Let him cast the first stone, who never rejoiced at any overthrow of the enemies of his country, nor was glad, in a common warfare, that they lost as many soldiers as we. As if God had not instruments enough at His will! Or as if He needed the Assyrians to punish Israel, or the one nation, whose armies are the terror of Europe, to punish us, so that if they should perish, Israel should therefore have escaped, though it persevered in sin, or we!
And he was very angry - , or, may be, "very grieved." The word expresses also the emotion of burning grief, as when Samuel was grieved at the rejection of Saul, or David at "the breach upon Uzzah" 2 Samuel 6:8; 1 Chronicles 13:11. Either way, he was displeased with what God did. Yet so Samuel and David took God's doings to heart; but Samuel and David were grieved at God's judgments; Jonah, at what to the Ninevites was mercy, only in regard to his own people it seemed to involve judgment. Scripture says that he was displeased, because the Ninevites were spared; but not, why this displeased him. It has been thought, that it was jealousy for God's glory among the pagan, as though the Ninevites would think that God in whose Name he spake had no certain knowledge of things to come; and so that his fault was mistrust in God's wisdom or power to vindicate His own honor. But it seems more likely, that it was a mistaken patriotism, which idolized the well being of his own and God's people, and desired that its enemy, the appointed instrument of its chastisement, should be itself destroyed. Scripture being silent about it, we cannot know certainly. Jonah, under God's inspiration, relates that God pronounced him wrong. Having incurred God's reproof, he was careless about men's judgment, and left his own character open to the harsh judgments of people; teaching us a holy indifference to man's opinion, and, in our ignorance, carefulness not to judge unkindly.
on Jonah 4 :1
4:1 It - The divine forbearance sparing Nineveh.