From the JFB Commentary ~ (see footnote)
“ ‘Jehovah, the very idea of whom is identified now in Jonah’s mind with mercy and loving-kindness. As the Psalmist (Ps 144:2) styles Him, “my goodness”; God who is to me all beneficence. Compare Ps 59:17, “the God of my mercy,” literally, “my kindness-God.” Jonah had “forsaken His own mercy,” God, to flee to heathen lands where “lying vanities” (idols) were worshipped. But now, taught by his own preservation in conscious life in the fish’s belly, and by the inability of the mariners idols to lull the storm (Jon 1:5), estrangement from God seems estrangement from his own happiness (Je 2:13; 17:13). Prayer has been restrained in Jonah’s case, so that he was “fast asleep” in the midst of danger, heretofore; but now prayer is the sure sign of his return to God."
Internal pressures demand submission to God for abundant life to manifest. Internal pressures demand external choices. The individual who has learned to seek God doesn’t escape the pressure, he just knows where to run. Jesus himself said the narrow gate is the one to take and the way is hard or pressing BUT it’s path leads to life. It’s in the press where we are tempted to follow an easier way. Its in the press we want to move to self preservation. Choices must be made. Pay attention to lying vanities and forsake the source of our mercy and loving kindness or run to God and rest in it.
Jonah’s choice came as he was moved by what he knew about the Ninevites. These were brutal and cruel people. I don’t think I can blame Jonah for not wanting to go into this ‘camp” and call for repentance. Yet God had a plan and out of Jonah’s own mouth, 4:2, he declares, “O Lord, is not this just what I said when I was still in my country? That is why I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and [when sinners turn to You and meet Your conditions] You revoke the [sentence of] evil against them.”
Gods very nature and heart are revealed to us in the conclusion of Jonah’s story in chapter 4 verse10. This one verse shows us again the goodness, mercy and lovingkindness of our Father. And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” Mercy exalted over judgment.
God never changes. He is good and His mercy endures forever. When we heed ‘lying vanities’, circumstances of our lives which scream louder than God’s goodness, we forsake the mercy that God extends to us. Jonah took the wide path, the easy road, and learned through some tough circumstances salvation is of the Lord but he did learn his lesson; “When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” Jonah 2:7.
He is the Father of all mercies and the God of all comfort. Jude reminds us to keep ourselves in the love of God looking (KJV) for the mercy, (ESV ~ waiting for the mercy) of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
Footnote 1 ~ Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 685). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.