Better is sorrow than laughter

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In Ecclesiastes 7:3, it says “Better is sorrow than laughter, For by the sadness of the face the heart becometh better.” (Youngs Literal Translation).  The New American Standard Bible says “Sorrow is better than laughter, For when a face is sad a heart may be happy”.

I don’t believe that Solomon was saying that laughter was bad, for I love to laugh.  Even the Bible says in Proverbs that laughter is good for the soul  – “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22, NIV).  So why did Solomon use the word better to compare sorrow and laughter?  How often did laughter make you think about the meaning of life, or life’s priorities?  Solomon is not condemning happiness, rather I think he is saying, that for a season of sadness it is better than to laugh because it causes a deeper awakening and love of God.  It causes us to search our hearts, to know our thoughts, to know if there be any hurtful way in us.  Why?  For the purpose of leading us in the everlasting way (Psalm 139:23-24).

In Matthew and Psalms, it says that those who suffer and mourn will experience comeliness and joy.  If you mourn, know that you are blessed for “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4 NIV), and “those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy (Psalm 126:5 NIV).

Copyright 2013 by Bill Hutzel