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REASONABLE FAITH FEARLESS-1

Proper Understanding of Our Use of Entertainment

Proverbs 14:13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
13 Even in laughter the heart may ache,[1]
    and the end of joy may be grief.

Even in laughter the heart may ache: The Hebrew (שְׂחוֹק sechoq or שְׂחֹק sechoq) for laughter here is thought by some translators and commentators to mean that despite laughter and joy, people’s fundamental characteristics or essence is sadness and grief. However, this does not fit the context of the whole of Proverbs, nor the entire Bible. “The RSV translation expresses the imperfect mood of the verb as is sad. However, as Whybray states, the imperfect form of the verb means “aches” or “is in pain” expressed as a potential condition or possibility and should be rendered, for example, “there may be pain,” or as TEV says “may hide sadness.”[2] The meaning here is that even though a person may be laughing, he may very well still be sad. In some circumstances, sadness and grief can be a part of someone’s laughter and joy. Here (לֵב leb) the heart is the center of emotions.

and the end of joy may be grief: This joy can be a feeling or attitude of gladness or to be filled with delight. (Ps 51:10). This is the response of one’s pure worship of God and so exceeding power of a feeling that even in extremely adverse circumstances they find joy. The Hebrew term can also refer to pleasure, a state of being happy. The sense here is on what happens to the body, which delivers entertainment to the senses. (Prov. 21:17; Eccles. 2:1; 2:2, 10; 7:4) The Hebrew (תּוּגָה tugah) is an emotion or attitude that is rendered grief, but also means sorrow and anguish has the sense of deep sorrow, especially that caused by a loss. This is the opposite of joy.

Can a person be happy if they are not at peace within themselves? Do laughter and joy relieve deep-rooted grief? Is it wise to submerge your feelings of deep-seated sadness in alcohol, misuse drugs, or try to remove those feelings by choosing to live a promiscuous life? No.

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This shows the futility of bodily entertainment and proves what Solomon said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” (Eccles. 2:2) Sometimes when a person is feeling guilty or condemnatory toward self or is suffering through difficult times, they conceal their grief by excessive entertainment, and try and act as though a particular situation is not as undesirable or grim as it really is. They do not cry out when grief or anguish is upon them, but rather seek laughter and joy to cover over the pain. However, an enormous amount of entertainment that brings about false laughter and joy cannot keep the ache from their heart. Their God-given consciences warn them they have no reason to be happy. (Hosea 9:1) They can see the futility of it. Spiritual laughter and joy are deeply grounded in the soul. However, this laughter and joy used to cover over pain is but from the mouth alone. (John 16:22; 2 Cor. 6:10) After one has indulged themselves in alcohol, misuse drugs, or a promiscuous life, the end is a guilt-filled, burden, weighty heart. The momentary pleasure is great while in it but short-lived, like a campfire made of kindle alone. If there is an ounce of God-given conscience left within them, the sinful and profane entertainment will be followed by great grief, anguish, bitterness. If there is no conscience left because it has grown callused,  the grief, anguish, bitterness will be so much greater when judgment day comes. The sadness, anguish, pains, and grief of the holy ones will end in everlasting joys (Psa. 126:5), but the false laughter and joy of fools will end in great grief, anguish, bitterness, and weeping.

[1] Or be sad

[2] William David Reyburn and Euan McG. Fry, A Handbook on Proverbs, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 2000), 312–313.

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