“Jonah Is Displeased with the Lord for His Mercy upon the People—The Lord Rebukes Him”

Jonah 4:1–11

1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.2 And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.3 Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.4 Then said the Lord, Doest thou well to be angry?5 So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.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, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.8 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.9 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.10 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:11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

Elder Juan Uceda wrote:

Jonah entered Nineveh and, according to the scriptures, prophesied, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown’ (Jonah 3:4). As the 40 days came to a close, Jonah left the city and built himself a shelter from which he hoped to watch a grand show of destruction (see Jonah 4:5).

“But to Jonah’s surprise and disappointment, no destruction came. The people believed and began to repent! When news of Jonah’s words reached the king of Nineveh, the king and his nobles turned to the Lord. They sent out a decree commanding that a period of fasting, humility, repentance, and prayer be observed throughout the city. Oh, how they wanted an opportunity to repent! And in a plea strikingly similar to Jonah’s prayer from the belly of the fish, the proclamation said, ‘Who can tell, if we will repent, and turn unto God, but he will turn away from us his fierce anger, that we perish not?’ (JST, Jonah 3:9). The Lord was pleased with the Ninevites’ change of heart and spared them. How merciful is the Lord to the children of men!

“When the anticipated calamity did not come to pass, Jonah complained to the Lord, saying that he knew the Lord was merciful and that He would never destroy those people. Jonah also claimed he had fled originally because he knew his preaching to these people would do no good. He then asked the Lord to take his life, for he felt it was not worth living anymore (see Jonah 4:2–3). How sad that Jonah could not rejoice in the success of his missionary labors!

“The Lord, in His infinite mercy, then prepared another lesson for Jonah, giving him yet another chance to see the situation from the Lord’s point of view.

“One morning as Jonah sat in his shelter, frustrated and confused, the Lord caused a gourd, or bean plant whose vines have large, broad leaves, to grow up over Jonah, giving him shade from the heat of the sun. This pleased Jonah and lifted his spirits. However, at dawn the next day the Lord sent a worm to chew upon the plant. As the sun rose in the sky, the Lord also sent a scorching east wind off of the desert, which caused the plant to wither and die. Soon the hot sun burned upon Jonah’s head, and he became angry again and wished to die. His distemper over the dead vine showed that, again in his mortal weakness, he was more concerned about his own comfort than the possible destruction of an entire city full of people.

“The Lord chastised Jonah for his selfishness and asked him a question: ‘Should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand [120,000] persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand?’ (Jonah 4:11). . . .

“The Prophet Jonah was displeased when the people of Nineveh repented. Are we ever guilty of not giving people a second chance at repenting?”

(“Jonah and the Second Chance,” Ensign, Sept. 2002, 28–29, 26.)