Jonah: Anger and Tenderness

Collin Selman
3 min readDec 16, 2022


Jonah 4:1–9


How would you describe the story up to this point?

Chapter 1 was Jonah’s selfishness and God’s sovereignty. Chapter 2 was Jonah’s prayer and God’s response. Chapter 3 we see God’s heart for the lost and his ability to move in their hearts even through imperfect tools. Now in Chapter 4 we see the focus swing back to Jonah and how God targets him with his love.

How would you have reacted after having been instrumental in the salvation of an entire city?


If you could condemn an entire people group or organization, who would it be? What one group would you have locked up for their demonstrated hatred and violence against others? Alternate: If you could go back in history with two bullets, who would you kill? (Taliban, Russia, politicians, Nazis, Darwin, Freud, Russeou, etc.)

The Assyrians: massive empire in the north of Mesopotamia, enemy of Israel. They practiced impalement, flaying, beheading, burning, and amputations. They would cut off limbs, gouge out eyes and let the victim roam around until they died. They were the ones to invent crucifixion. These were the people that God chose to forgive.

Jonah’s Anger (vs.1–4)

So what made Jonah angry?

Do these verses feel like a prayer? The same tone of prayer as in Chapter 2?

Jonah disparaged God’s good character. He challenged God’s right to rule by disputing his methods and ways.

Have you ever been so filled with emotion you wanted to die?

Why did Jonah ask God to take his life?

Vs. 3 — This is the second time that Jonah asked for someone else to kill him.

Why would it have been better for Jonah to die?

Jonah now would have had to have returned to Israel with news of Nineveh’s repentance. Have you ever been ashamed of a good work?

Have you ever had the “why me?” mentality?

Have we ever become angry at God for his “sake”? For good things?

What do you think was God’s intent in asking Jonah this ending question? He was trying to get Jonah to see his own heart, to reflect on his position

Here is Jonah’s selfishness in full display and God’s tenderness in full bloom. Even in our frailty, God treats us with tenderness.

Jonah’s Anger Again (vs.5–8)

In this next weird episode, we see Jonah’s anger again. This time, why is he angry?

Our comforts sometimes can also make us proud and self-congratulatory.

We would consider this explosion in anger as almost absurd from an outsider’s perspective. But when we are angry, the whole world seems to melt except for the focus of our anger.

Have you ever become angry unjustly?

God’s Response (vs.9–11)

God again, turns away Jonah’s wrath (Proverbs 15:1) and asks a probing question. He does not return anger for anger or face unrighteousness with judgment and condemnation here. He is offering Jonah compassion. He is offering him solace with a better perspective. He is offering him grace.

Even in our anger and failings, God is tender with us as a father with a child.

What attribute of God as our Father do you most appreciate?




Collin Selman

A Christian, a husband, a father, a blue-collar intellectual, an engineer, a carpenter, a gardener, and who knows what else in the future.