How great is the power of God over the hearts of men! Nineveh was the capital of a powerful empire. The inhabitants were heathens. The many prophets who, during a long series of years, had spoken in the name of the Lord to His professed people of Judah and Israel, had spoken almost in vain. The messengers were often mocked, and their message despised. The inhabitants of Nineveh, it is probable, had never seen a true prophet till Jonah was sent to them. If they had reasoned on his prediction, they might have thought it very improbable that a great city, the head of a great kingdom and in a time of peace, could be in danger of an overthrow within forty days. But it is said, they “believed God” (Jon 3:5). The awful denunciation made a general, universal impression. The king arose from his throne, laid aside his robes, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes (3:6). A sudden cessation of business and pleasure took place; he proclaimed a strict fast, the rigor of which was extended even to the cattle. His subjects readily complied and unanimously concurred in crying for mercy, though they had no encouragement but a peradventure, “Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?” (3:9).