Sitting and Sulking
by: Rev. David Bast
Jonah’s prayer continues in verse 3, as he asks for death. It’s a parody of the famous scene from Elijah’s life where, having fled from wicked Queen Jezebel’s rage, he prays that God will let him die in the wilderness. But where Elijah was depressed because he believed he had failed in his ministry, Jonah was depressed because he had succeeded. Elijah wanted to die because it seemed to him that God’s cause was finished. Jonah wanted to die because God’s grace had triumphed.
Bit by bit, we are being given an unmistakable picture of the absurdity of Jonah’s behavior. From beginning to end there is no justification for anything Jonah has done. Slowly the natural prejudices of the audience against the pagan Ninevites and for the prophet Jonah are being completely reversed. You find yourself approving of the conduct of the people of Nineveh and of God’s treatment of them, and condemning Jonah.
When we look at Jonah, we can only wonder how any “man of God” could be so mean-spirited, narrow-minded, and hardhearted. How is it possible that someone who has received from God an undeserved gift of life should become so upset when others are given the same thing?
Could it be that when God looks at me he does not see me as the basically kind, generous, and noble person I imagine myself to be, but rather that he sees me the way I see Jonah?