These small group studies of Jonah extensive cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, lessons to learn, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Jonah 4:1-6 Inductive Bible Study

Jonah 4:1-6

Jonah Disagrees with God


Jonah Whines, then Sulks

Summary- Far from being pleased at the fruitful outcome of his preaching, Jonah was angry that the Lord had spared the Ninevites. One of the very reasons he had fled to Tarshish was so that the Lord would NOT be merciful to the Ninevites, because he knew that the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, and one who turns back from causing calamity. In anger, Jonah said he wanted to die, because death was better than life. God does not reprove, but questions him. Jonah doesn’t even bother to answer God, but goes to choose a vantage point from which he can look at Nineveh and hopefully see the destruction of the Lord rain down on it. To teach Jonah a lesson, God appointed a plant to quickly grow up over him and shade him. Stay tuned for what happens to the plant…

Central Teaching- God’s children don’t have the right to be angry about His plans. We don’t need to agree, only obey.

Key Words- angry, gracious, life, death, city, shelter

Key Verse(s)- 4:2

Ten things this passage says-

  1. God’s plan greatly displeased Jonah.
  2. Jonah became angry.
  3. Jonah prayed to God, complaining about the His mercy to Nineveh.
  4. Jonah had fled to Tarshish before because he did not want God to have compassion on Nineveh.
  5. Jonah knew that God was gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abundant in lovingkindness, and relenting in calamity.
  6. Jonah asked that God take his life from him.
  7. Jonah declared that death was better for him than life.
  8. God asked Jonah if he had good reason to be angry.
  9. Jonah went east of the city, made a shelter for himself, and watched to see what happened to Nineveh.
  10. God appointed a plant to grow up over Jonah to shade him; Jonah was extremely happy about the plant.

Ten things this passage does NOT say-

  1. Jonah praised the Lord because of the fruitful outcome of his preaching.
  2. Jonah was happy that the Ninevites had repented.
  3. Jonah wanted the best for the Ninevites from the very beginning.
  4. Jonah prayed that God would change his rotten attitude.
  5. Jonah wasn’t aware of God’s true character, and was completely surprised at God’s merciful reaction to the Ninevites.
  6. Jonah valued his life, as well as the lives of the Ninevites.
  7. The Lord granted Jonah’s request, and struck him dead right then.
  8. The Lord answered Jonah harshly, and immediately showed him exactly why his attitude was wrong.
  9. Jonah realized his sin, and rejoiced that God had done the merciful, right thing after all.
  10. Jonah caused a plant to grow up to shade himself. It was his plant, and he had a right to it.

What does this passage teach me about God?

His plan is perfect.

He does not need our approval.

He is merciful.

He is gracious.

He is compassionate.

He is slow to anger.

He is abundant in lovingkindness.

He often relents concerning calamity.

He hears even our complaints.

He often teaches through asking questions and giving practical life lessons.

He does not always give us what we ask for, and this is good!

He is in control of nature.

He is everywhere. We cannot escape His presence.

How can I apply this to my life?

Don’t questions God’s methods or His plan. They are good, even if I don’t agree or understand. He is right.

Know the character of God. Though at times I might still rebel against Him, knowing His true character should ultimately ground me and lead me back to Him.

Realize that it’s good that He doesn’t give me everything I ask for. Sometimes I ask for really stupid/harmful things!

Don’t set my heart too much on having my own way, or on physical things.

Don’t try to run away from God. I can’t.


What greatly displeased Jonah? V1

How did Jonah’s attitude contrast to the Lord’s? V1

With Whom was Jonah angry? V1

What do you think was the root cause of Jonah’s anger? V1

What is usually the root cause of anger? V1

How can we avoid having this kind of angry reaction? V1

What was the real reason Jonah fled to Tarshish? V2

Why do you think Jonah did not want the Lord to forgive the Ninevites? V2

How did Jonah’s attitude differ from the sailors’ in chapter 1? V2

What did Jonah know about God’s character? V2

What does it mean that God is gracious? V2 (He longs for and favors others.)

What does it mean that God is compassionate? V2 (He is tender in His affections.)

What does it mean that God is slow to anger? V2 (He does not delight in punishing the wicked.)

What does it mean that God is abundant in lovingkindness? V2 (He is loyal in love and faithful to His covenant.)

What does it mean that God relents concerning calamity? V2

What attitude did Jonah display about God’s character towards himself, versus towards the Gentiles? V2

Were Jonah’s “fears” justified? V2

What was Jonah’s ultimate conclusion from the events that happened? V3

Why do you think Jonah wanted to die? V3

What did Jonah’s request show about His knowledge of the Lord’s power? V3

What can we learn about this in relation to our prayers and the Lord’s answers? V3

Why do you think the Lord asked this question? V4

DID Jonah have good reason to be angry? V4

What can we learn about teaching from this method? V4

Why do you think asking questions is sometimes more helpful than telling people? V4

What does this show us about the Lord’s attitude towards his children? V4

What was Jonah’s reply to God? V4

Why did Jonah go sit east of the city? V5

What did Jonah build for himself? Was it apparently adequate? V5

What, if anything, does Jonah’s action say about his opinion of the power of his prayers? V5

What does it say about his opinion of God’s word? V5

What do you think Jonah was hoping would happen? V5

Why did God appoint a plant to grow up over Jonah? V6

What was Jonah’s reaction to the plant? V6

Why was Jonah happy about the plant? V6

What was Jonah’s part in causing the plant to grow? V6

Contrast Jonah’s attitude towards the plant with Jonah’s attitude towards the Ninevites. V6

Cross References-

Jonah 4:1-

Num 20:11-12

11 Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. 12 But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”

Num 20:24

24 “Aaron will be gathered to his people; for he shall not enter the land which I have given to the sons of Israel, because you rebelled against My command at the waters of Meribah.

Ps 106:32-33

32 They also provoked Him to wrath at the waters of Meribah,

So that it went hard with Moses on their account;

33 Because they were rebellious against His Spirit,

He spoke rashly with his lips.

Jonah 4:9

9 Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death.”

Mic 6:3

3 “My people, what have I done to you,

And how have I wearied you? Answer Me.

Matt 20:15

15 “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’

James 1:19-20

19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

James 2:8

8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well.

3 John 6

6 and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.

Jonah 4:4

4 The LORD said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?”

Matt 20:15

15 “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’

Luke 15:28

28 “But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him.

Acts 13:46

46 Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.

James 4:5-6

5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

2 Sam 6:8

8 David became angry because of the LORD’S outburst against Uzzah, and that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day.

Ps 37:8

8 Cease from anger and forsake wrath;

Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.

Ezek 3:14

14 So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away; and I went embittered in the rage of my spirit, and the hand of the LORD was strong on me.

Jonah 4:11

11 “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”

Matt 20:15

15 “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’

Luke 10:40

40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”

Luke 11:32

32 “The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

1 Cor 9:17

17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.

Jonah 4:2-

1 Kings 19:4

4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.”

Jer 20:7

7 O LORD, You have deceived me and I was deceived;

You have overcome me and prevailed.

I have become a laughingstock all day long;

Everyone mocks me.

Jonah 1:3

3 But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

Luke 10:29

29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Ex 34:6

6 Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;

Num 14:18-19

18 “The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.’ 19 “Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Your lovingkindness, just as You also have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.”

Ps 78:38

38 But He, being compassionate, forgave their iniquity and did not destroy them;

And often He restrained His anger

Ps 86:5

5 For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,

And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.

Ps 86:15

15 But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,

Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.

Hos 11:8-9

8 How can I give you up, O Ephraim?

How can I surrender you, O Israel?

How can I make you like Admah?

How can I treat you like Zeboiim?<