New Defender's Study Bible Notes
4:1 displeased Jonah. Although Jonah himself had repented of his disobedience and had preached in Nineveh as God had commanded, he had not yet repented of his attitude toward the Assyrians, preferring their destruction to their conversion! That was why he tried to flee to Tarshish in the first place (Jonah 4:2). He knew from the prophecies of his contemporary, Hosea, that the Assyrians would eventually conquer and deport his people into Assyria (e.g., Hosea 9:3), and he harbored an intense hatred of them as a nation. He was willing to proclaim coming destruction to them, but not salvation.
4:6 prepared a gourd. There are a number of fast-growing plants in the deserts of the Middle East, and commentators disagree as to the botanical identity of this “gourd.” None, however, would grow to such a height overnight, so this plant, like the fish, must be understood as miraculous. The worm which (like the fish and the gourd) had also been “prepared” by God (Jonah 4:7), must likewise have possessed miraculous abilities, to produce an overnight disintegration of such a large shade plant. The “vehement east wind” (Jonah 4:8) was also prepared by God, making Jonah so conscious of God’s concern and power with regard to his animal and plant creations, that he could finally appreciate God’s concern even for the pagan Assyrians.
4:11 right hand. This reference indicates there were 120,000 little children in Nineveh, in addition to the adolescents and adults, and God cared for them. Even though the Assyrians were mortal enemies of Israel, yet these chosen people of God needed to remember that God’s original promise to their father Abraham had included a promise that, through them, all nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3). Their promised Messiah was also to be “a light to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 49:6).
4:11 cattle. God is concerned not only about all people but also all His animal creatures—even sparrows (Matthew 10:29). Most of God’s remarkable monologue to Job, for example, deals with His providential care of the animal kingdom (Job 38:39–41:34).