"How horrible, and wonderful, it is when God laughs out loud," writes David Mathis, editor of Desiring God and pastor of Cities Church. When Scripture speaks of God's laughter, it serves many purposes—including quieting the fears of His children.
"His laughter isn’t just side-splitting; it’s world-splitting," Mathis says. "His enemies cower in fear. His friends rise in comfort. His laughter warns cosmic traitors of their impending doom, while reminding weak saints that their best is yet to come."
In the Bible, Mathis explains, laughter is communicative. "It often mocks, scoffs, or derides (Genesis 21:9; 38:23; 39:14, 17; 2 Chronicles 30:10; Psalm 52:6; 80:6; Proverbs 1:26; Ezekiel 23:32; Habakkuk 1:10). A fool’s laughter reveals his folly (Proverbs 29:9; Ecclesiastes 7:6), while the laughter of the righteous signals confidence in God (Psalm 52:6). Laughter even serves as a form of what we would call “flirting” today (Genesis 26:8)."
As for God's laughter, Scripture illustrates it as one of the chief ways in which He reveals His sovereignty over the world and quiets our fears in uncertain times: "God’s enemies may plot against his people, 'but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming' (Psalm 37:12–13). God laughs at those who set themselves against his anointed (Psalm 59:8). And when he laughs, he does so for our sake, to communicate to us."
"He laughs to give off signals," Mathis continues. "Signals that are horrible to his enemies and wonderful to his friends."
Perhaps the most memorable instance of God's laughter in Scripture is found in Psalm 2. "The setting is black and white: God’s enemies stand against him on one side, his friends with him on the other. His 'Anointed' (Psalm 2:2) is the chosen human ruler of his people, on whom he has set his favor. With God’s king are his loyal subjects — originally Israel’s king and his people, and today Christ himself and his church with him."
Though it is a sound which strikes His enemies with fear, God's laughter is a great source of comfort for those who are His. "God laughs to remind us no purpose of his can be thwarted. We do not fear along with the rebel nations, because we have heard his voice. We have received his promise."
For now, the enemies of God may laugh and mock in their unbelief, as they did at Jesus in Matthew 9:24; Mark 5:40; and Luke 8:53. "But we, like the excellent wife of Proverbs 31:25, 'laugh at the time to come,' and in doing so communicate our confidence in God to handle our greatest possible troubles."
Jesus says, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh” (Luke 6:21). For now, there is “a time to laugh” (Ecclesiastes 3:4), Mathis concludes. "One day, we will laugh forever, and like never before."