Heavenly Laughter -- By: Jacob Bos

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 095:378 (Apr 1938)
Article: Heavenly Laughter
Author: Jacob Bos


Heavenly Laughter

Jacob Bos

Heine, himself one of life’s sardonic smiles, calls God the Aristophanes of heaven who laughs at the foibles and stupidities of men. The statement may have a somewhat unusual if not uncomfortable suggestion for those who think of God as a heavenly Father whose only quality it is to be merciful, and of Christ as only a gentle Jesus, meek and mild. Men obsessed by themselves and tragically lacking in moral restraint will least of all care to have their attention called to their own humbuggery. For not only “le docteur Pangloss” of Voltaire’s Candide, but all puppets in the dizzy dance of externals have always on their lips the stale refrain that this must be the best possible world. But just as the poor, so we always have with us the disillusioned, the pessimist, the black- or blue-spectacled, the cynic, the satirist, to cool our overheated ardors, to damp our bubbling, frothy enthusiasms, to tell men that they are more clownish than interesting, and to administer bitter doses when we become too sickly and too sickeningly sweet. God, too, sits in heaven and laughs.

The laughter of God is not, however, like the laughter of gods and men. The Greeks created their gods too much in the image of men and thus their laughter is also too human. The humor of Homer is not that of the Bible. The Bible does not tell of the smile of Juno when she is naively but solemnly warned by the limping god, Hephaestos, not to quarrel with her too amorous spouse, since he, Hephaestos, also was once thrown over the battlements of heaven for taking her part, and after falling all day landed at nightfall on the island of

Lemnos, quite out of breath. The rollicking mockery of the gods around the enmeshed Mars and Venus caught “in the very act” is too human. Jesus also once stood in the presence of one caught “in the very act,” but He pointed a finger of derision at the gloating Jewish elders holily enjoying the discomfiture of the guilty one.

The laughter of God is not the lip-curled irony of the French woman’s “The more I see of men, the more I think of my dog.” Nor is it the sometimes frivolous mockery of a Voltaire, nor the distorted disillusionment of La Rochefoucauld who ascribes every human act good or bad to a selfish motive. Nor is it even the peppery but saltless satire of scintillant epigrammatists. Heaven’s laughter ends in blazing wrath, in judgments swift and sure, because of scorned mercy. “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would have none of my reproof: I also will laugh in the day of your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh on as a whirlwind; when ...

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