Proverbs 14:13
Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in sorrow.
Sermons
Hollow Laughter, Solid JoyAlexander MaclarenProverbs 14:13
On a Life of Dissipation and PleasureHugh Blair, D.D.Proverbs 14:13
Sorrow Amid LaughterJ. F. B. Tinling.Proverbs 14:13
The Understanding of One's WayE. Johnson Proverbs 14:8-19
Loneliness and LaughterW. Clarkson Proverbs 14:10-13
The tenth verse suggests to us the serious and solemnizing fact of -

I. THE ELEMENT OF LONELINESS IN HUMAN LIFE. "The heart knoweth its own bitterness," etc. In one aspect our life path is thronged. It is becoming more and more difficult to be alone. Hours that were once sacred to solitude are now invaded by society. And yet it remains true that "in the central depths of our nature we are alone." There is a point at which, as he goes inward, our nearest neighbour, our most intimate friend, must stop; there is a sanctuary of the soul into which no foot intrudes. It is there where we make our ultimate decision for good or evil; it is there where we experience our truest joys and our profoundest griefs; it is there where we live our truest life. We may so crowd our life with duties and with pleasures that we may reduce to its smallest radius this innermost circle; but some time must we spend there, and the great decisive experiences must we there go through. There we taste our very sweetest satisfactions, and there we bear our very heaviest burdens. And no one but the Father of spirits can enter into that secret place of the soul. So true is it that

"Not e'en the dearest heart, and nearest to our own, Knows half the reasons why we smile or sigh." It is well for us to remember that there is more, both of happiness and of sorrow, than we can see; well, that we may not be overburdened with the weight of the manifold and multiplied evils we are facing; well, that we may realize how strong is the reason that, when our cup of prosperity is full, we may have "the heart at leisure from itself, to soothe and sympathize" with those who, beneath a smiling countenance, may carry a very heavy heart. For we have to consider -

II. THE SUPERFICIAL ELEMENT IN MUCH HUMAN GLADNESS. "Even in laughter," etc. A man may smile and smile, and be most melancholy. To wear a smile upon our countenance, or to conclude our sentences with laughter, is often only a mere trick of style, a mere habit of life, cultivated with little difficulty. A true smile, an honest, laugh, that comes not from the lips or from the lungs, but from the heart, is a very acceptable and a very admirable thing. But a false smile and a forced laugh bespeak a double-minded soul and a doubtful character. Surely the angels of God weep almost, as much over the laughter as over the tears of mankind. For beneath its sound they may hear all too much that is hollow and unreal, and not a little that is vain and guilty. But, on the other hand, to smile with the glad and to laugh with the merry is a sympathetic grace not to be despised (Romans 12:15, first clause).

III. THE ISSUE OF FALSE SATISFACTIONS. "The end of that mirth is heaviness." How often is heaviness the end of mirth! All enjoyment that does not carry with it the approval of the conscience, all that is disregardful of the Divine Law, all that is a violation of the laws of our physical or our spiritual nature, must end and does end, sooner or later, in heaviness - in depression of spirit, in decline of power. It is a sorry thing for a man to accustom himself to momentary mirth, to present pleasure at the expense of future joy, of well being in later years.

LESSONS.

1. Let the necessary solitariness of life lead us to choose the very best friendships we can form; that we may have those who can go far and often with us into the recesses of our spirit, and accompany us, as far as man can, in the larger and deeper experiences of our life.

2. Let the superficiality of much happiness lead us to inquire of ourselves whether we have planted in our soul the deeper roots of joy; those which will survive every test and trial of life, and which will be in us when we have left time and sense altogether behind us.

3. Let the perilous nature of some gratifications impose on us the duty of a wise watchfulness; that we may banish forever from heart and life all injurious delights which "war against the soul," and rob us of our true heritage here and in the heavenly country. - C.







Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.
We have much reason to beware lest a rash and unwary pursuit of pleasure defeat its end, lest the attempt to carry pleasure too far tend, in the issue, to sink us into misery. It would be unjust to infer, from the serious admonition of Scripture, that religion is an enemy to all mirth and gaiety. It circumscribes our enjoyment, indeed, within the bounds of temperance; but as far as the sacred limit permits, it gives free scope to the gratifications of life. It even heightens their relish to a virtuous man. The text is applicable only to that set of men to whom temperance is no restraint. A mediocrity of enjoyment only is allowed man for his portion on earth. Whatever a man's rank or station may be, there are certain duties required of him, there are serious cares which must employ his mind.

1. The obvious consequences of a life of pleasure and dissipation to health, fortune, and character. To each of these it is an enemy, precisely in the same degree to which it is carried. A temporary satisfaction is admitted. But no sensual pleasure, except what is regulated by temperance, can be lasting.

2. The ruin which a life of pleasure and dissipation brings upon the moral state and character of men, as well as on their external condition. As the love of pleasure gains ground, with what insidious steps does it advance towards the abolition of all virtuous principles! Without the assistance of reflection and of serious thought, virtue cannot long subsist in the human mind. But to reflection and serious thought the men of dissipation are strangers. Men become assimilated to the manners of their loose associates; and, without perceiving it themselves, their whole character by degrees is changed. From a character originally stamped only with giddiness and levity shoots forth a character compounded of dishonesty, injustice, oppression, and cruelty.

3. The disquieting sensations which are apt to intrude upon the men of pleasure, even in the midst of their enjoyments. Often a show of mirth is put on to cover some secret disquiet. At the bottom of the hearts of most men, even amidst an irregular life, there lies a secret feeling of propriety, a sense of right and wrong in conduct. Though conscience be not strong enough to guide, it still has strength to dart a sting. Can that be reckoned sincere joy which is liable to be interrupted and mingled with so many sensations of the most disagreeable nature?

4. How unsuitable a life of dissipation and pleasure is to the condition of man in this world, and how injurious to the interests of society. Amid the sorrows that surround us, and in view of the brevity of life, should we be pursuing giddy amusement and perpetual pleasure? Such persons scatter poison in society around them. They are corrupting the public manners by the life they live. They create discontent and indignation in the poorer classes of men, who see them indulging in wastefulness and thoughtless profusion, when they and their families are not able to earn their bread. To serve God, to attend to the serious cares of life, and to discharge faithfully the duties of our station, ought to be the first concern of every man who wishes to be wise and happy. Amusement and pleasure are the relaxation, not the business, of life.

(Hugh Blair, D.D.)

A description of Mr. Opie Read, the American humorist, reveals heart-sorrow where the reader has seen nothing but mirth. "Sometimes," says the writer, "his work is marked by the deepest pathos. He had lost two of his children, to whom he was devotedly attached, and these melancholy events made very marked impressions on the man and his work. 'When one of my babies died,' said he, in talking of the matter to me, 'I was working for a magazine, and I was required to do just so much work every day. I was compelled to do it — it was my only means of support. During that awful time I would frequently rock the cradle of my dying babe for hours at the time. With one hand I rocked that cradle of death, and with the other I was writing stuff to make people laugh. I sobbed and wept, and watched that angel and wrote that stuff, and I felt every minute as if my heart would burst. And yet some people think this funny business is all sunshine. Sometimes even now I see articles floating around that I wrote while under the shadow of death, and occasionally some editor will preface these very things with some such remark as, "The genial and sunny-souled Opie Read says so and so," — yes, about these same things that I penned when my babe was dying and my heart was bursting.'"

(J. F. B. Tinling.)

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