“But it [God’s not carrying out the judgment] displeased Jonah exceedingly.” One reason Jonah fled to Tarshish was that he felt God would repent and spare Nineveh, and to not destroy the city would make him appear foolish. Also, Jonah did not want God to deal with Israel’s enemies. One lesson for us as we consider Jonah’s actions is that we should question our own motives, not God’s.
Being schooled under the Law as a favored nation that was to be kept separate and distinct from other peoples, many Jews had difficulty seeing God’s mercy. That prejudice was hard for them to overcome, and they needed a lot of convincing in one fashion or another. Those Jews who could accept the change were flexible enough to realize that God has this prerogative. The Apostle Paul gave a sermon on this subject, showing that it is God’s prerogative to have mercy on whom He will have mercy (Rom. 9:15).