The Laughter of God

"There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven…A time to weep and a time to laugh…” (Eccl. 3:1, 4).  By this Scripture, we quickly recognize that there are appropriate times for us to laugh, but do we realize that God laughs, too?  Of course, our laughter usually expresses merriment or amusement, but God’s laughter is no laughing matter.

In the Bible, we find examples of certain individuals laughing, but the Bible itself is devoid of intentional humor.  While there are instances of sarcasm (1Ki. 18: 27) and satire (1Cor. 4:9-14), there is no comedy to be found.  Someone may read a passage and find it humorous, but it is not the purpose of the Scriptures to make jokes.  In fact, even in those examples of persons laughing, their laughter is often inappropriate.  Persons such as Sarah who laughed at the idea of having a son in her old age (Gen. 18:11-15), those who mocked Hezekiah’s decree of the Passover (2Chron. 30:10), and those who doubted Christ’s power to raise a dead girl (Matt. 9:24) laughed because of their unbelief.  Nothing in these examples was humorous, but the persons involved laughed just the same.

The Scriptures also give examples of God’s laughter, but His laughter is not like the laughter of man.  Instead, every instance of God’s laughter in the Bible involves a deadly serious situation.  In these examples, God’s laughter is not an expression of His joy, but rather it is the result of His scorn for the futility of men who choose to oppose Him.  Let us consider a few of those examples.

One example of God’s laughter is found in Psalm 2:4 – "He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them.”  In this context, God is laughing at the vanity of the plan devised by men.  This plan is expressed in verses 2-3:

"The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!’”

We know that this is a prophecy of the trials and crucifixion of Christ because Acts 4:25-26 declares the fulfillment of it.  There was absolutely nothing humorous about the injustice and suffering of Christ’s sacrifice, but God scoffed by laughter at the futility of weak men who tried to prevent Jesus from fulfilling God’s eternal purpose (Eph. 3:11).  In fact, this futile resistance continues to this day as men and nations reject the authority of God in favor of their own ways.  Certainly, God still laughs at their vain defiance.

Another example of God’s laughter is seen in Psalm 37:13 – "The Lord laughs at him, for He sees his day is coming.”  In this case, the context of verses 12-15 shows that God is laughing at the wicked person who plans to destroy the righteous.  Again, there is nothing humorous about such a plan, but God laughs because He knows that they unwittingly plan their own demise.  The efforts made by the wicked against the righteous will ultimately result in their own destruction.  This is because those who afflict God’s righteous people are opposing God Himself, and He will be the final judge of all men.  Their evil ways will not go unpunished.

A third example of God’s laughter is found in Psalm 59:8 – "But You, O LORD, laugh at them; you scoff at all the nations.”  The meaning of God’s laughter in this passage is again seen in the context, which speaks of the nations who practice iniquity and challenge the very existence of God.  By saying, "Who hears?” in verse 7, these nations suggest that there is no God to stop their wickedness.  Meanwhile, Jehovah God of hosts laughs at their worthless futility, for to Him "the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales” (Isa. 40:15).  They are utterly powerless against God and cannot threaten Him in the least, and yet they are so arrogant to doubt Him and challenge His power.  Their challenges will be met with a furious destruction.

By these examples, we see that provoking the laughter of God is not desirable.  If God is laughing at us, then it means that we are attempting to threaten, oppose, or overthrow Him.  The very of idea of such an attempt is indeed laughable, for no one can cope with the Almighty God of heaven.  However, those who deny God, rebel against Him, and live in sin provoke His laughter as He scoffs at their vain efforts.  They also incur His fierce wrath as He repays them for their evil deeds.  Truly, there is nothing funny about the laughter of God.

Stacey E. Durham


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