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Jonah 4:2 – The Mercy of God


After Nineveh repents, God relents and does not punish the city. Jonah is angry and tells God that this is why he fled in the opposite direction from Nineveh in the first place--because he knew that God was merciful.


The language that Jonah uses here is traditional language. It occurs famously in Exodus 34: "The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (v. 6). But Jonah does not use this traditional language to praise God but to accuse God of forgiving a people whom he thought deserved to be judged and punished.

Jonah 4:2

2He prayed to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing.

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