FOUR KINDS OF LAUGHTER IN THE BIBLE
“A time to weep, and a time to laugh”
I. The laughter of unbelief, Genesis 18:11-15; Luke 8:52-56;
Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 4:18.
II. The laughter of a fool, Ecclesiastes 7:6; Proverbs 14:13.
III. The laughter of God, Psalm 2:1-4; Proverbs 1:24-26.
IV. The laughter of salvation, Luke 6:21; Psalm 30:5.
You can find the various forms of “laugh” in the Bible thirty-eight times. Sometimes laughter is wrong and then sometimes laughter is right. Sometimes it is a fool who laughs. Sometimes it is God Himself.
1. The laughter of unbelief.
“Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself…Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh” (Genesis 18:11,12,15).
Sarah laughed when Abraham told her that God said she would have a child. She laughed in unbelief. After all Abraham and Sarah were very old and they didn’t have any children. Then, Sarah was afraid and tried to deny that she laughed but God said she did laugh.
Sarah’s unbelief in the power of God has been seen all through the hearts of people through history. Today, there are many women who are like Sarah. There are even children and young people who at the power of God.
One day a man named Jairus came to Jesus. He fell down at the feet of Jesus and begged Him to come to his house and heal his little daughter who was twelve years old, and lay in her bed dying.
When Jesus got to the house, there was a crowd of people weeping and wailing outside because the girl was already dead. But Jesus said, “Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth” (Luke 8:52). Then the Bible says, “They laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead” (Luke 8:53). They knew that the girl was dead. They laughed at the Son of God when He told them she would live. They were filled with unbelief – and their lack of faith made them laugh at Jesus – just as Sarah laughed at the power of God. And then Jesus
“…put them all out [of the room], and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat. And her parents were astonished…” (Luke 8:54-56).
2. The laughter of a fool.
The Bible says, “For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool” (Ecclesiastes 7:6). This verse paints an excellent picture for us…. a pot suspended over a fire, with thorns burning under it, making a crackling noise. The thorns sputter as they burn, then they are devoured, and there is nothing left but cold, grey embers and silence. The laughter of a fool is like that. He is miserable even while he’s laughing. The fool is empty and dead after his fun and laughter are over. Something is missing in your life. Many people use other devices such as drugs, alcohol, and pornography to fill that empty spot within them. But the Bible says, “Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth [or joy] is heaviness” (Proverbs 14:13).
3. The laughter of God.
Here is an unusual verse of Scripture:
“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision” (Psalm 2:4).
Why does God laugh? We have to read the first three verses of the Psalm to understand that.
“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision” (Psalm 2:1-4).
Matthew Henry comments, “Sinners’ follies are just the sport of God’s infinite wisdom and power; and those attempts of the kingdom of Satan, which in our eyes are formidable, in his are despicable”
God loves people. He wants them to be saved. In His great love He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the Cross so our sins could be paid for. But people reject the love of Jesus and the love of God. People say, “Oh, I can get along fine without God.” I don’t need to go to that old church every Sunday! What do I need that for? I don’t need God in my life.” Then, tragedy strikes that person. Judgment falls on that proud person who said he didn’t need God. And when that sudden judgment falls, God says, “Ha! Ha!”
Listen to these words from God,
“Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity” (Proverbs 1:24-26).
4. The laughter of salvation.
Jesus said, “Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh” (Luke 6:21). Heaven is the happiest place in the Universe.
W. Herschel Ford puts it this way:
“1. It will be a laughter of congratulation. You meet a friend here who has had an operation or been seriously ill, and you congratulate him on his recovery. And when we meet our friends in heaven, we shall laugh and congratulate each other.
We’ll say to one, “The last time I saw you, cancer was eating away your body. Now you have a new body and you’ll never be sick again. Congratulations.” To another we’ll say, “The last time I saw you, arthritis had crippled you. Now you can run as a messenger of the king. Congratulations.” To another we’ll say, “The last time I saw you, you were wasting away with tuberculosis. Now you have an eternal bloom on your cheek. Congratulations.” To another we’ll say, “The last time I saw you, you were grappling with sin. Now you have overcome it forever. Congratulations.” To another we’ll say, “The last time I saw you, you were burdened with sorrow. Now you have peace and comfort. Congratulations.”
2. It will be a laughter of reunion. Have you ever been to a family reunion? Those who have not seen each other for a year laugh as they shake hands with a loved one or throw their arms around another one.
I remember the sad wail of a sick mother as her baby was wheeled away to be buried. She cried out, “Good-by, my darling. I’ll never see you again.” But there will be no such cry in heaven. Mother is gone, but we’ll see her again. Father and brother and sister and child, husband and wife, they are gone, but not forever. We shall see them again in that blessed, better land.
3. It will be a laughter of forgetfulness. We have our difficulties and our differences down here. Up there we’ll forget all of these. Up there we shall all love one another.
4. It will be a laughter of sweet memories. We’ll talk about the good times we had down here and these memories will flood over us, to make heaven ever richer and sweeter. Here we remember the touch of a vanished hand, there we’ll feel its touch again. Here we remember a voice that is stilled, there we’ll hear that voice again.
5. It will be a laughter of victory and triumph. Satan often [gives us trouble] here, but at last we’ll gain the victory over him. He’ll be in hell where he belongs and he can never tempt us again.
Wellington returned in triumph from Waterloo. Teddy Roosevelt returned in triumph fromCuba. Pershing returned in triumph from France. Eisenhower returned in triumph fromGermany. They had won some great victories and they marched home in glory, leading a triumphant procession.
Oh, but how much more triumphant, how much greater will be the heavenly triumphant procession! Jesus will head the procession and we’ll be with Him laughing and rejoicing, all sin and sorrow behind us, and a glorious eternity before us.
As a Christian lay dying he said, “I see the letter ‘W’ written all over the skies.” “What do you think it means?”, someone asked. And he replied, “I think it means welcome, welcome to heaven.”
Yes, soon life’s little day will end and we’ll be going home. Welcome will be written over the gate, over the door of our mansion, over the throne and all over heaven. So let us trust Christ and love Him and serve Him well. Then up there all our sorrow and sighing will be turned into blessed eternal laughter.”
(W. Herschel Ford, ibid., pp. 127-128).