Instead of rejoicing and enjoying the mercy of God, Jonah wanted to see the people of Nineveh pay for their sins! It is clear by what Jonah says that he understood what God was doing. He understood God's mercy and forgiveness. He had a good understanding of God's character and His will, but from his own words in verse 2, he did not want God's mercy and grace to be showered on the people of Nineveh! They were Israel's enemies, and he did not want to have anything to do with bringing them good things from God. These pagan Assyrians were more receptive to God's will than Jonah was.
Ronny H. Graham
The Refuser of Festivities
God's patience delays His wrath, allowing time for good to occur. We should also note the other qualities patience is combined with here and in Exodus 34:6. In combination with patience, the qualities of grace, mercy, lovingkindness, goodness, and truth allow God to work with people so they can remain alive and eventually transform into His image. If God struck out at people just as short-fused humans frequently do, no one would be alive today. Jonah, in a typically human reaction, wanted God to wipe the sinners of Nineveh, Israel's enemy, off the face of the earth!
Nineveh was undoubtedly just as full of sinners as Israel. But God, bearing patiently with them in their ignorance, sent Jonah to proclaim His warning message to them: Destruction would fall on them in forty days. They, however, believed the message, proclaimed a fast, prayed mightily to God, repented, and turned from their evil ways. Their repentance may not have been Davidic, but under the circumstances God was pleased.
II Peter 3:9 affirms that God still operates in the same manner:
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
Romans 2:3-6 discusses the same theme on a more personal basis, warning us that we should not abuse God's patience by viewing it as inattention, indulgence or mere tolerance. Solomon warns of the same perversity of nature that reveals itself in those lacking faith (Ecclesiastes 8:11-13). Clearly, God's patience is exercised so He can work on the situation and produce repentance. All too frequently, though, His goodness and patience are abused through stubbornness or neglect. Be assured, God is aware, and there comes a time when His patience is exhausted and His judgment falls if the change God expected does not occur.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Patience