“I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth: therefore enjoy pleasure;” and behold, this also was vanity.”
Solomon communes with himself and decides to carry out a test to see if there is any pleasure or meaning in laughter and joking. He investigates all things that could be funny, bring laughter or amusement.
Perhaps he thinks about and indulges in witty repartee, or sarcasm, or satire, to try to lighten the serious side of life and bring serious issues to a lower level of importance. Looking at books, listening to others, writing, all sorts of ways that mirth and humour are enjoyed.
If it began as pleasure, it does not seem to have ended that way. The humour is overcome by the seriousness of life and the issues of meaning and futility hold sway. The laughter turns hollow and the humour is only a fleeting moment of mirth. Reality is serious and full of disappointment and distress. These things cannot be laughed away. Laughter conditions us in to thinking that everything is ok. If people are laughing it’s ok. Even the sound of laughter can be a conditioned response.
In our Western culture we are very keen on comedy at the moment. There is much on TV and comedy clubs thrive. We use comedy to stultify the realities of life and helps us make light of the problems we might be going through. It might last for a moment, but soon we must face reality again. Humour has become a kind of social drug that keeps things superficial and trivial to stop us worrying or trying sort things out. It’s a kind of emotional pacifier that placates our difficulties but cannot take them away.
It is foolish to make light of something that is serious. It is foolish to poke fun at serious states of mind that result in being duped about how serious they really are. Reality musts be faced, and many are not living in it, but chasing dreams and fantasies that can never sort out anything. We become mere phantoms and ghosts of our former selves, in order to try to assimilate the issues we have picked up and cannot face or sort out.
There is no reference in Scripture for a human laughing at God, but there are plenty of instances in modern culture of people laughing at the truths of God and making light of deep and serious issues from the Word of God. Laughter shows lack of respect, and though we have open access to truth, we continue to regale the things about spiritual life and godliness, that would lead us to God and the truth.
Our laughter can also cover up much sorrow. When we laugh a lot, we are usually trying to cope with something we are finding difficult. The happy face becomes a mask that hides trouble. Even if we are happy a lot, we still have things to deal with that can cause us distress.
Laughing at other people and their misfortune is mean. We see and hear this repeatedly. People are picked on and made into jokes. It happens all through society and at every level. It brings our culture into the dirt and trivialises serious argument and thought. Issues get dealt with through joke lines and insult, rather than logic and reason.
“Like a madman who shoots torches, arrows, and death, is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “Am I not joking?”
Covering over our meanness with more jokes and light hearted banter, is also mean. It becomes a prison.
Laughter is good, and it has it’s place, when it is sincere and from a sincere heart.
“A cheerful heart makes good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
Laughing does brighten the spirit and can alleviate the mood, and make us feel lighter when we are cast down about what we are thinking about. We can use it to help others and help ourselves. But mainly it is reserved for people who are trivial and trite about suffering or serious situations that require serious thought and deep comfort, certainly as is presented in the media. We are taught to be lighthearted and let our feelings pass over us with a laugh, and move on, thereby never really dealing with the issues.
The outcome of this research of Solomon’s, shows that humour is folly and a vanity. To seek this kind of entertainment is trivial and foolish. There is no wisdom to be found in the local comedy club or watching the stand up comedian on the television. Both lead us into fleshly mindsets and ungodly living. It is folly to live in this way.
“For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool. This also is vanity.”
Thorns only hurt and last for the moment of mirth and create a momentary blaze, and then they are gone. So like those who make light of trouble and cause long term heartache for so many. This is foolishness.