Laughter and Sorrow
1.) Laughter = laughter; sport; fooling around; clowning around; making light; making mirth; making merry; mocking.
a. Job 12:4 – Job laments that he had become a laughingstock before his neighbors… a joke. This was a laugh of derision.
b. Gen.18:12 – Sarah laughed at the promise of God of a son. This was an incredulous laugh of unbelief.
c. Gen. 19:14 – Lot’s sons in law mocked at his command to leave the city. This was a mocking laughter.
d. Prov. 14:9 – fools mock at sin. This is sinful laughter. This is the kind of laughter that occurs when folks watch the filthy sitcoms and laugh at smutty jokes and innuendos.
e. Prov. 31:25 – the virtuous woman rejoices in time to come —in the sense of she smiles at the future —a smile or laughter of contentment… knowing her family is well cared for.
f. Ecc. 3:4 – a time to weep; a time to laugh —used in a good context here. This is good, healthy laughter.
a. Laughter appears in many contexts in the Scriptures; some healthy and natural; some sinful and immoral.
b. Solomon’s point in this proverb is that laughter isn’t always what it seems.
c. When we see a person laugh, we are inclined to think that the person is happy or joyous.
d. That’s what the outward appearance is proclaiming… but it is not necessarily so.
3.) In laughter, the heart is often sorrowful!
a. This was one of Solomon’s observations of life… of human nature.
b. Solomon observed that often times people attempt to cover up their deep inner grief with the outward appearance of laughter…
c. Ha, ha, ha is constantly on their lips… giving the appearance of being jovial… upbeat… and cheerful…carefree… not a burden in the world… but on the inside it is quite another story!
d. Solomon observed that it is human nature to put on an outward show happiness to cover up inner pain.
e. Solomon observed that clowns are often very sad people.
f. We see this also in the use of alcohol. Alcohol helps people DROWN their sorrow… put on a happy, carefree, face, full of laughter, but drunks are also very sad people underneath all the phony mirth.
4.) This thought is similar to a thought mentioned in Prov. 14:10.
a. The heart of man knoweth his own bitterness… and nobody else really knows what is going on on the inside.
b. Solomon is saying that the emotions and feelings that accompany life’s bitter experiences are felt DEEP within a man’s heart… in his innermost being.
c. Solomon is saying that only the man himself can really feel and experience this bitterness. It is his OWN unique bitter experience.
d. An outsider —stranger —cannot fully participate in or even understand his inner joy either.
e. God knows the heart, but man sees only the outward appearance.
f. Because men KNOW this, (that nobody really knows my inner bitterness)… there is a tendency to cover up what is going on on the inside with a charade of bubbliness and laughter.
g. Solomon says that this is often a sham… a thin veneer to cover up a person who is hurting on the inside.
5.) This is HYPOCRISY… putting on a front.
a. Hypocrite: an actor, stage player, pretender.
b. Ancient play actors in Greece and Rome often wore a large mask with a mechanical devise to augment the voice… like a built in megaphone.
c. The term gradually became a term used to describe someone who pretends to be what he is not—a hypocrite.
d. Solomon’s point in Prov. 14:13 is that people who are constantly laughing, clowning around, and bubbly are often hiding behind a mask… it is pretense.
e. The mask has a happy face, but underneath is often sorrow.
6.) What is the PURPOSE of knowing this? Why did he write this proverb? What application can we make?
a. Don’t be fooled by people who APPEAR to be continually happy, laughing, and joking. Things are not always as they seem.
• Those who mock at sin and seem to be having a grand old time may be putting on a phony front.
• Those who drink and laugh may seem happy, but often that is just a cover for the real sorrow in their heart.
b. So don’t think it necessary for YOU to be constantly upbeat, cheerful, always bubbly.
• It’s ok to be sad. We don’t need a phony 700 club smile on our face 24 hours a day… especially when circumstances are not happy.
• Be real… not phony.
c. Most people KNOW that such laughter is a mask.
• It is in fact quite sad to see a person pretending to be happy.
• You can’t help but feel sorry for them.
d. Christians sometimes fall prey to this pretense because of a wrong concept of what true JOY is. Joy is not bubbliness or giddiness… It is possible to have the joy of the Lord—the fruit of the Spirit—even when we are feeling sad.
e. The Lord Himself was constantly filled with the Spirit… but was a Man of sorrows… but He was NOT a hypocrite. He never pretended to be something He was not.
1.) Mirth: joy; mirth; gladness. 1a mirth; gladness; joy; gaiety; pleasure.
2.) Solomon continues his description of the same kind of laughter… a laughter that is but a cover for sorrow… pretense… hypocrisy.
a. Those folks may be the life of the party… tell all the funny jokes… and seem to be carefree and happy.
b. But when they go home… and that outward show of mirth and happiness is over… heaviness sets in.
c. They can keep up the front in public… but when they are alone… reality sets in… the mirth is gone and it is replaced by sorrow.
d. The mask is removed and the man once again has to deal with his sorrow and heaviness… grief.
3.) But once the sorrow sets in… the man is dealing with reality again.
a. Pretense is over. The sorrow is no longer ignored… or buried… but comes right back up to the surface.
b. This is the point of the proverb…
c. It is human nature to try to cover up our real feelings… it is human nature to try to appear to be happy when we are not…
d. And it is human nature to go to great lengths to pretend to be happy. Some folks excel at this art.
4.) This kind of mirth and merrymaking is NOT a help but a hindrance.
a. Ecc. 2:1-2 – Solomon knows all about this because he GAVE HIMSELF to mirth and laughter trying to BECOME happy and discovered that it was all vanity…
b. Life is more than partying, having fun, laughing, and joking.
c. There is a time and a place for laughing… and a time for weeping.
d. Solomon learned that a life GIVEN to the pursuit of merrymaking is madness… insanity…
e. That’s NOT what life is all about.
5.) What Solomon does NOT say here… but does say in the book of Ecclesiastes, is that sorrow is BETTER than laughter!
a. We go to great lengths to cover up… ignore… block out… and pretend that we are not full of sorrow or grief.
• Sometimes the heart is full of grief or sorrow because the conscience is pricked over sin… and laughter is a vain attempt to cover it up… ignore it…
• Hos. 9:1 – God told Israel NOT to rejoice because in their heart they were pursuing idolatry!
• It is hypocrisy to pretend to be happy when it is the LORD who has convicted us over sin.
b. Yet, the very thing we try to block out is GOOD for us!
c. Ecc. 7:6 – the laughter of fools is vanity.
• Phony laughter is vanity… emptiness… hollow and shallow.
• It might be a momentary distraction to our sorrow, but beyond that, it is quite empty.
• It doesn’t DEAL with the sorrow or its source. It merely pretends it doesn’t exist.
• The laughter of fools is vanity.
d. Ecc. 7:3 – Sorrow is better than laughter, because it may lead to wisdom.
• When the heart is sad… then God can work.
• Jas. 4:9 – James is rebuking worldliness… this sort of pleasure seeking… partying… ha ha ha attitude is the way of the world. Let that kind of laughter be turned to heaviness… this is a command to get serious… think about how you are living… repent of the worldliness… and let God use the heaviness to correct wrong thinking.
• God uses sorrow to get our attention… to cause us to look to Him… to stop and think…
• God uses sorrow to strengthen the inner man. It is in a time of grief that we take the time to reflect upon life… on the important things…
• This sorrow and sober reflection often leads to repentance… a change of mind followed by a turning in the right direction.
• People are much more likely to think soberly about the real issues of life at a funeral than at a party.
e. Sorrow is better than laughter in many ways.
• So there is no point in covering up sorrow… or pretending to be always happy.
• If you are going through a period of grief or sorrow… let God USE that period for good in your life.
• Ps. 119:71 – it is good to be afflicted, to suffer, and to experience sorrow, loss, and grief. It is in those times that we learn the most… beneficial lessons far more valuable than a few shallow laughs.