Like nearly everyone else, I thoroughly enjoy indulging in a hearty laugh, particularly after an exhausting day. This is precisely why I have developed a fondness for comedy shows and as I binge-watched my favorite show last night, a thought struck me, “What exactly does the Bible say about laughter?” Intrigued, I made sure to jot the thought down as the focal point of today’s Bible study, and this morning, I commenced my studies on this captivating subject by contemplating a simple query, “How many times is laughter mentioned in the Bible?”
Laughter is mentioned 20-40 times in the Bible, but this number differs depending on the Bible version. The instances where laughter appears vary in their context and implications. Some instances are portrayed as disrespectful and scornful, reflecting a lack of faith or understanding, and other instances are associated with joy and gladness, symbolizing the delight and happiness that can come from God’s blessings.
In this post, I invite you to join me as we delve into this discussion and uncover what the scriptures say about laughter. Here, we’ll also talk about the holy laughter, how laughter benefits us according to the Bible, and go through some instances of laughter in the scriptures so, keep reading.
What is holy laughter?
Holy laughter, also known as spiritual laughter, refers to a phenomenon where individuals experience spontaneous and uncontrollable laughter during spiritual gatherings or encounters with God’s presence. This term gained prominence in certain Christian circles, particularly during the 1990s charismatic movement, and while not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, proponents of holy laughter draw theological insights from various passages to support their understanding of this phenomenon.
However, it’s important to note that the phenomenon of holy laughter is a subject of debate within Christian theology, with critics arguing that it can be easily misunderstood or misused, and caution against pursuing such experiences solely for the sake of emotionalism. They emphasize the need for discernment and aligning any spiritual encounters with biblical teachings and the character of God.
What Does the Bible Say about Laughter?
The Bible portrays laughter as a reflection of joy and gladness, for instance, Psalms 126:2 speaks of laughter in the context of rejoicing and celebration, encouraging believers to experience laughter as a response to God’s deliverance and blessings. In this context, laughter is seen as a fruit of a heart that trusts in God’s goodness. On the other hand, in the Bible, laughter is sometimes portrayed negatively, associated with mockery and scorn, and this type of laughter is characterized by a lack of wisdom and understanding, often directed at God’s ways or those who follow His commands. Proverbs 14:9 particularly warns against this. The Bible also acknowledges that laughter is a gift from God, bringing delight and refreshment, as implied in Ecclesiastes 3:4, where the Bible suggests that there’s a time for laughter.
Instances where laughter appears in the Bible
One of the most popular instances of laughter in the Bible is the laughter of Sarah narrated in Genesis 18:12-15 when she hears about the promise of bearing a son in her old age and laughs in disbelief. Her laughter initially reflects doubt and skepticism, but it eventually transforms into joy and astonishment as she witnesses God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His promise. Also, as implied in Genesis 21:6-7 the name “Isaac” itself means “laughter” in Hebrew, signifying the joy that came from God’s miraculous intervention and the fulfillment of His promise to Abraham. Moreover, in the Sermon on the Mount in Luke 6:21 and Luke 6:25, Jesus contrasts mourning and laughter, saying He blesses those who mourn, indicating that they’ll be comforted, suggesting that laughter and joy will follow periods of sorrow and hardship. Additionally, Proverbs 14:13 suggests that even during times of laughter and apparent joy, there can be underlying pain or sorrow in a person’s heart.
Job 8:21 suggests that God has the power to bring joy and laughter back into our lives, even amid difficult times. It conveys the message that God can restore our happiness and fill us with renewed joy and celebration. In Psalm 2:4, the Bible portrays God’s response to those who oppose Him, suggesting that God finds their rebellious actions and plans to be futile and deserving of ridicule. It conveys the idea that God’s laughter reflects His ultimate power and authority over all things, including those who stand against Him. Job 5:22 suggests that in the face of challenging and desperate situations, God can lead us to a state of fearlessness and even joy.
Proverbs 31:25 describes a woman who possesses strength and dignity, suggesting that she’s confident with a positive outlook on the future, enabling her to laugh and find joy in the face of uncertainty. This scripture suggests that someone rooted in strength and dignity can approach the future with optimism and humor, trusting in God’s provision and guidance. Finally, Psalm 37:13 suggests that God has a response of amusement or derision towards the wicked, and this serves as a reminder of God’s judgment and His ultimate triumph over wickedness.
Where in the Bible does it say laughter is good for the soul?
The Bible doesn’t explicitly state the phrase “laughter is good for the soul,” however, some passages imply the positive effects of laughter on the human spirit and overall well-being like Proverbs 17:22. Although this verse doesn’t specifically mention laughter, it emphasizes the importance of a joyful heart, and laughter is often considered an expression of joy, and this verse suggests that a joyful heart brings healing and vitality to the soul. Theological studies emphasize the holistic nature of human beings, including the interconnectedness of body, mind, and spirit, and laughter is viewed as an expression of the joy and gladness that God desires for His people.
How does laughter benefit according to the bible?
The Bible doesn’t provide an explicit list of the specific benefits of laughter, however, there are biblical principles, verses, and theological perspectives that can shed light on the positive effects of laughter. For instance, laughter has been recognized as a natural stress reliever as suggested in Proverbs 17:22, which implies that a joyful heart is good medicine, implying that laughter can contribute to physical and emotional health.
Additionally, laughter often creates a sense of joy and connection among people and can serve as a tool to build relationships, promote unity, and strengthen social bonds. In this context, laughter can enhance community, bringing people together in shared moments of joy and celebration. Also, laughter can offer a fresh perspective and help individuals navigate challenging situations as it has the power to bring lightness and ease to heavy burdens. When facing difficulties, laughter can serve as a reminder that God is in control and that His joy can be found even amid trials.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.