Rev. Kuiper is pastor of Immanuel Protestant Reformed Church in Lacombe, Alberta, Canada.
Not many times do the words laugh and laughter occur in the Scriptures. We read of the laughter of the wicked, the laughter of the righteous, and, most striking of all, the laughter of God. As we consider this subject we ought to be reminded that we live in a world where comedy is king and where the insanity of unbelief is punctuated by forced humor, jokes, blasphemies, frivolousness, and inanities. How much the world is with us so that these things enter into the conversations of believers. And how we need to hear the Word of God that foolish talking and jesting ought not to be named among us as becometh saints (Eph. 5:4).
Wicked laughter is the bursting forth of hatred that natural man harbors in his heart for all that is holy, lofty, and exalted. Then the lip is curled in scorn, mockery, and derision; the entire face reveals the desperate wickedness of the heart. The unbeliever laughs at the trial of the innocent (Job 9:23), the upright man (Job 12:4), the rebuilt temple and those that built it (Neh. 2:19), the miracles of Jesus (Matt. 9:24), the divinity of Christ (Luke 23:25), and the promise of His return (II Pet. 3:3, 4). In all this he very really laughs at the living God who is revealed in Christ and in the salvation and life of His saints.
There are times when the laughter of the child of God partakes of this same unbelief, times when we think some things to be too hard for God. This was Sarah in her tent (Gen. 18:10). God heard and God rebuked. He will not have His promise in Christ scoffed at by anyone, under any circumstances. Faithful to His covenant, God changes Sarah’s laughter in its character and tone so that the aged mother sings, “God hath made me to laugh, all that hear will laugh with me” (Gen. 21:6). Abraham and Sarah saw the promise of God in Christ being fulfilled, and they called the son Laughter (Isaac); what a joyful feast that must have been the day Isaac was weaned! There is a time to laugh, and the righteous do laugh, because they know themselves to be blessed (happy). This laughter is the spontaneous and melodious breaking forth of the new heart of the child of God because he delights in God, because he has found God to be the rock of his heart, and because he has found God’s promise true. We ministers ought to smile more as we preach the gospel.
God is the God of laughter, although we do not often think of him that way. The laughter of God is an aspect of his eternal good pleasure. When the heathen rage, when people imagine a vain thing, when the rulers of the earth unite in counsel against God and His anointed Son, “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision” (Ps. 2:1-4; see also Ps. 37:13; Ps. 59:8). God regards it an amusing thing that puny man should dare to oppose Him, try to frustrate His will as it centers in Jesus Christ, or do His people any spiritual harm. He dashes the wicked in pieces as a potter’s vessel, and He knows that their day is coming. Divine laughter is not an imperfection in the Godhead; it is not cruel, but an aspect of His justice, goodness, and sovereignty. God also laughs over His people. He smiles on them with delight! What else can the lifting up of His countenance mean, but that all the lines of His face are turned upward in benevolence and pleasure?
Laughter is not the outstanding feature of our present life. Now we mourn; and “sorrow is laughter, for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better” (Ecclesiastes 7:3). But God has a way of turning things about so that the crooked is made straight and the last are made first. Hear Luke 6: “Blessed are ye that weep now; for ye shall laugh . . . . Woe to ye that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.” and His people shall rejoice in Him, world without end!