Perhaps the best indication that God does have a sense of humor is that He created man in His image (Genesis 1:27), and certainly people are able to perceive and express humor. The American Heritage Dictionary defines a “sense of humor” as “…The ability to perceive, enjoy, or express what is comical or funny.” According to this definition, then, God must show an ability to perceive, enjoy, or express what is comical. The difficulty is that people perceive what is comical differently, and what sinful man perceives as funny would not amuse a holy and perfect God. Much of what the world calls humor is not funny but is crass and crude and should have no part in a Christian’s life (Colossians 3:8). Other humor is expressed at the expense of others (tearing down rather than building up), again something contrary to God’s Word (Colossians 4:6; Ephesians 4:29).
An example of God’s humor is the instance in which the Israelites were using the Ark of the Covenant like a good-luck charm in taking it to battle, and the Philistines ended up capturing it and placing it in their temple before their idol of Dagon. They came into the temple the next day and found Dagon flat on his face before the ark. They set him back up. The next morning, there he was again, but this time he had his hands and head cut off as a symbol of his powerlessness before the God of the ark (1 Samuel 5:1-5). God’s putting Dagon in a position of submission to His ark is a comical picture.
This incident is an example of God laughing at the foolishness of those who would oppose Him. “See what they spew from their mouths— they spew out swords from their lips, and they say, ‘Who can hear us?’ But you, O LORD, laugh at them; you scoff at all those nations” (Psalm 59:7-9). Psalm 2 also reveals God laughing at those who would rebel against His kingship (verse 4). It is like the comical picture of a kindergarten-aged child being upset at his parents and running away from home…all the way to his neighbor’s house. But there is obviously a serious side to this as well, and although the picture of weak and silly man trying to match wits with an almighty and all-knowing God is comical, God takes no delight in their waywardness and its consequences but rather desires to see them turn around (Ezekiel 33:11; Matthew 23:37-38).
A person does not crack jokes in the presence of one who has just lost a close loved one; silly jokes are out of place on such occasions. In the same way, God is focused on the lost and is looking for those who will care for their souls as He does. That is why our lives (while having times of refreshing and humor) are to be characterized by “soberness” (seriousness about making our lives count for Christ) (1 Thessalonians 5:6,8; Titus 2:2,6).