Or, thy bread (i.e. But we have thus only vindicated the statement of our text on the extreme supposition, namely, that our labours to do good are so wholly ineffectual, that they produce no advantageous results to those whose benefit was their object. We misunderstand a wise principle; we say to ourselves that we ought to calculate profit, that we ought to look out for results; and so, mistaking this fact that we ought to choose to do our goodness in the wisest and likeliest way, we mistake that wise habit of prudence, judgment, and we turn it into a petty trafficking attempt to secure certainty that every little thing we niggardly do is going to bring us a definite and special return. iii., p. 351; Homiletic Magazine, vol. Looking beyond what can be seen. But such an ambition involves some foregoing of present advantage; and that is where modern life is so weak. If those who are now within our reach, if those who are now in darkness, be not benefited by an application of the means God has given us in His providence, “a great gulf” will soon be fixed, over which no pity, no exertion, can step. The merchant sent his ship over the waters, he lost sight of it altogether, and in those days the quickest passage on record was unknown. Cast thy seed (which is here called bread, as it is also Job 28:5 Isaiah 28:28, and elsewhere) beside (for so the Hebrew particle al is oft used) the waters, i.e. 1. viii., p. 199; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. He listened to the din of noisy festivals; he beheld obscene and lascivious rites; he saw the effect of the whole system of worship on the wretched people by whom he was surrounded; but he cast in the seed; and has it not been found “after many days”? or, "Send your grain overseas"!? Mendelssohn is right in remarking that the exhortation shows itself to be that of Koheleth-Solomon, whose ships traded to Tarshish and Ophir. This is a very rational construction of Solomon's words, which the judicious Bishop Lowth, in his 10th Prelection, thinks may be illustrated from Psalms 104:14. 3. Weeds are self-dispersive, and have a frightful facility of growth; but fruits are God's blessing on labour. IV. The capital the manufacturer sinks in plant, etc., has the same significance. (2) Withhold not the word that aims at a brother’s good. A motive drawn from the consideration of human mortality. "Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.". Yet the very text itself affirms that we shall “find it after many days.” It is not lost; the seed has gone away from the granary that it may bring a hundredfold back with it; the little seed that went out as a handful will come back as a cart loaded with sheaves, so that you must enlarge the gateway to give the largest welcome.’. (Caleb Morris.). Life sweet; but the days of death shall be many, Ecclesiastes 11:7,8. It may well be spoken humbly, cautiously, reluctantly, gently; if not, it will lose its influence, and will be wrong in you. This is a fine principle which the Gospel has brought to light: it teaches us that, though God is the fountain of all good, He has made creatures the instruments of good to man. Here is a motive addressed to our hope. But in the spiritual realm it is different. The true reward of hearty study comes to be realized only after many days. Several objections are implied in the text. But the cause is a lost one. It has been remarked that in the East bread is used in the shape of light cakes, which would float on water; and the text has been understood as directing the casting of such cakes into a running stream—an irrational proceeding, not likely to occur to any but one to whom this text might have suggested it, and not offering ground for expectation that he who so cast his bread would find it again. Give, do good while you have the opportunity! Here and there the spiritual life may spring and mellow early, but in most instances its appearance will be “after many days.” While you speak in agony to save, you may seem speaking to vacancy--the young spirit is not listening--it is far away in chase of a merry fancy. Ecclesiastes 11:1 Context. 1. “Work while it is called to-day;” sow ideas, sow truths, sow thoughts suggested by God’s own Spirit, whose blossoms will soon “make the wilderness rejoice, and solitary places glad.”. A third objection is, that there will be a partial failure. And are they on this account to conclude that they have made a wholly fruitless outlay of zeal and exertion? There is such a demand as never in the world before for light sketches, superficial reading. That the latent evil of the human heart is liable to explosion. God worketh all. I. Non pereunt sed parturiunt pauperibus impensa, That which is given to the poor is not lost, but laid up. Paul's use of this metaphor for benevolence makes it virtually certain that the sowing here means exactly what it does in the New Testament, practicing liberality. Give as the Lord hath prospered you, and leave another day or another year to take care for itself. What effects should this charge and this promise have on our faith and practice? This kind of prudence is that which Solomon recommends with respect to the poor, as may be seen by the whole context. Wherefore, if thou hast of thine own, give; if not, better for thee to gratify none than to grate upon any, saith Augustine. Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days. He sowed the bread of heaven on dark waters So softly that history hardly noticed Him or His sowing. Shall, then, persons capable of adorning and instructing the highest ranks in society not meet with support, when they employ their talents in contriving means for benefiting the poor? Ecc 11:9 You who are young, be happy while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Similar admonitions to give to the poor abound in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. People will go to the opera, even if they don’t know how they will pay next week’s board-bill--yes, often enough, even if they can’t pay last week’s! They are insensibly taught, by the example of others, what could not have been infused into them by mere abstract precept; and they acquire, by imitation, habits of order and docility, which they could not by any other method have obtained. Who, looking at ancient Britain, would have thought that it would become the vineyard of the Lord? Not a bit of it, my friend. The Bible makes it clear that God takes care of the generous (Psalm ; Proverbs 19:17 "He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed"; 11:25; Luke 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you"; 2 Corinthians 9:6-8; Galatians 6:9). The greatest lack of modern society, I do believe--all through, from children up to grown men and women--is thoughtful self-restraint, the willingness to forego the gratification of to-day for the sake of the days to come. It may well be spoken humbly, cautiously, reluctantly, gently; if not, it will lose its influence, and will be wrong in you. Simply because benevolence should be practiced without either any desire or expectation of ever getting it back, exactly as would be the case of casting bread into a raging river. American King James Version ×: “This passage is not a contradiction to the gospel but a call for it. Work in faith through the power of God. 4. Death Comes to All. It is a call to unpromising work to sow the seed upon the waters looks hopeless; little good seems likely to come of such toil and sacrifice. I. Is it so? This is of immense importance, because it secures to all the children of the poor the same advantages; the elder and the younger being alike partakers of the benefits thus freely accorded to them. "[5] Fleming agreed that, "It refers to business ventures overseas trade. I. The doctrine of stewardship is peculiar to our religion. The main and master principle is love. The text suggests to us also the blessing that may be hid in delay. Not getting, but giving, is the way to wealth. It is inculcated, [Exceedingly clear and strong were the injunctions which God gave on this subject to his people of old [Note: See Deuteronomy 15:7-11 and cite the whole.] The widow, in giving her mite, which was all that she possessed, might be thought to have acted a very wild and extravagant part, especially when she gave it for a purpose to which it could bear no proportion, namely, the repairing of the temple: yet is that commended to us, by our Lord himself, as an example highly to be admired, and universally to be followed [Note: Mark 12:42-43.]. The scribe learned in the law thereupon related that when he went on board the ship, he gave a loaf of bread to a poor man, who thanked him for it, saying: As thou hast saved my life, may thy life be saved. Il est grand, il est beau de faire des ingrats . And though it is but too probable that they may afterwards lose the impressions which are then made upon their minds, yet they can never forget the general idea, that it was well with them when they were so disciplined and so instructed. Thou shalt find it; it shall not be lost, as covetous men, or thine own corrupt heart, may suggest, but it shall certainly be restored unto thee, either by God or by men, and that with great honour and advantage. the surface or top, of the waters, in which and such-like cases al constantly signifies upon. In Egypt, for instance, where the Nile overflows the country periodically to a vast extent, it is common for men to cast their seed, their rice especially, upon the waters, whilst yet they are at a considerable depth. Invest in Many Ventures - Ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return. And the reason given does not harmonize with this reference: “for in the course of many days ( berov yamin, cf. The book contains philosophical speeches by a character called Qoheleth (="the Teacher"; Koheleth or Kohelet), composed probably between 5th to 2nd century BCE. (4) We should aim to use the right rule for estimating success. When the waters receded, the grain in the alluvial soil sprang up (Isaiah 32:20). [Note: Delitzsch, pp391-92.]. His every act has propagating power in it. They are so likewise in some places, especially Genesis 32:21 and 2 Samuel 15:18 in the signification of before, with respect to time. And parents who have had to struggle with that heaviest of trials, the ungodliness of children, and who have not had the least ground to hope that their remonstrances and tears and prayers have wrought any effect upon their reprobate offspring, they may be met hereafter by the sons or the daughters whose contempt of religion entered as iron into their souls, but into whose hearts their admonition had sunk notwithstanding the apparent insensibility. "Waters" express multitudes; so Ecclesiastes 11:2; Revelation 17:15; also the seemingly hopeless character of the recipients of the charity; but it shall prove at last to have been not thrown away (Isaiah 49:4). “Utterly meaningless! The most popular explanation of Ecclesiastes 11:1 is, that the figure is taken from the casting of seed on irrigated lands, as, for instance, in Egypt before the waters of the Nile have subsided; and that the duty of beneficence is here inculcated. Or take another illustration, in the houses which are everywhere being built about our cities, for the housing of this hand-to-mouth generation. When every practicable security has been taken charitable help and spiritual service will still be attended with much uncertainty. Now, why should not המים עלאּפני al-peni hammaiim, in the passage before us, be rendered, Before the rainy season? ‘Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.’. In that, the temporary sacrifice of one's property brings in a rich reward, even though after a long interval: (according to 1 Kings 10:22, Solomon's vessels returned from Tarshish once in three years, bringing with them rich cargoes). Partic. or who shall say, What benefit shall, in a course of years, arise to the whole community from such institutions as these, if they be generally established and well supported? Ecclesiastes Chapter 11:1Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. A great many of us make another mistake. The Vulgate and my old Bible have the same idea. But שׁלּח, with this reference of the proverb to beneficence, is strange; instead of it, the word השׁלך was rather to be expected; the lxx renders by ἀπόστειλον ; the Syr., shadar ; Jerome, mitte ; Venet. He bids you seek Him, and He assures you that in due time He will be found of you. (1) Suppose that one of you sets himself heartily to seek God. 3. Part with your most precious knowledge, then; venture to sow it in faith on the waters of thought; it may find a lodgment, dart the fibres of life in secrecy, and in due time reappear in those practicalities which most beautify and bless the world. Some interpreters (not unreasonably) understand by “bread” the seed from the produce of which bread is made. — — — Nay, so obvious is this duty, that the man who lives not in the practice of it must be an utter stranger to the love of God in his soul [Note: 1 John 3:17. You had better sow every year. II. the waters, ( for then the particle al might have been translated beside,) but the face, i.e. "[7] All such views of this passage are absolutely ridiculous and should be rejected out of hand. Why does “the law” stand in that noble emphasis at the beginning of the Hebrew religion? It is a seed that will germinate, multiply. Now we can all understand that to sow to the Spirit is a thing which requires great patience. Cast thy bread upon the waters— Cast thy corn before the waters, for thou shalt find it, &c. Desvoex observes, the true design of this verse is so plainly pointed out by the context, that interpreters could not avoid seeing that it is an exhortation to benevolence and liberality; yet few of them understood the letter of the metaphor wherein that exhortation is in a manner wrapped up; and the Chaldee paraphrast would not even allow it to be a metaphor; but, through a very extraordinary synecdoche, made the surface of the water to mean poor sailors, whose ships sail on that surface. "Let him labour, working with his hands," saith the apostle, "that he may have to give to him that needeth." "Thou shalt find it;" therefore you may be at first inclined to think it lost. One must be amazed and outraged at what many recent interpreters and translators are doing to this plain Scripture. Fancy a farmer aa he goes across the field sowing corn, taking it out grain by grain, and saying, “I wonder whether this grain will be eaten up by a bird, whether this will rot in the ground; I do not know, and therefore I will not sow it.” That would be about as silly as to be always calculating whether the penny you put into the plate is going to convert a heathen, or whether that Bible is going to convert a sinner, or whether going to that meeting will do any definite good. “No man liveth unto himself.” The text indicates the kind of agency that a thoroughly good man exerts upon his race. If there is one phase of traditional alms-giving which the modern spirit deprecates more than another, it is its indiscriminateness. 3. And we call this the extreme supposition, because we believe that ordinarily where God has prompted to exertion and to sacrifice He crowns them with some measure of success, though He may not always allow that success to be known. Only from the lips of Christ and from those whose utterances were instinct with the light of Christ's own Spirit do we obtain those gleanings of precious and suggestive thought which God will vitalise and make the seeds of heaven. “Shall find”--therein consists the romantic interest of the spiritual venture. "Cast thy bread upon the waters, etc." . You, with your religious assemblies, your faith in God, your love to our Lord Jesus Christ, your hope in heaven--you are proofs that seed cast upon the waters may be found “after many days.” Oh, then, go on: future ages shall call you blessed; and the glorious results of your labour shall be found in that day, when “they shall come from the east, and the west,” etc. It is not easy to be good; it is terribly hard to keep on doing right; you get awfully tired of it, and then you wonder and think that you cannot be really good when you are so sick of being so self-sacrificing, so sick of forgiving that brother or sister that always irritates you, and you feel that you really ought to get a little rest from it, to take an interval of not being good; and then you turn upon yourself and upbraid yourself. Enduring Word Bible Commentary Ecclesiastes Chapter 11 Ecclesiastes 11 – Towards True Wisdom A. ].” Even with eternal rewards will he repay us, “recompensing, at the resurrection of the just,” the smallest services we have rendered his people [Note: Luke 14:14. “Thou shalt find it again.” What, we do for the poor is not, thrown away, though it may... 2. ], and not suffering “even a cup of cold water to be left without its appropriate reward [Note: Matthew 10:42. After — The return may be slow, but it is sure, and will be so much the more plentiful. Fuller.). An uncertain receptacle. "If the clouds be full of rain, they empty [themselves] upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the … 3. As for any thing good, they learn it not; having no good principles instilled into them, and no good examples set before them. From the very first it brought to them an immediate return in soul-satisfaction. Cast thy bread upon the waters - An allusion to the sowing of rice; which was sown upon muddy ground, or ground covered with water, and trodden in by the feet of cattle: it thus took root, and grew, and was found after many days in a plentiful harvest. How hast thou merited this? He does not intend by it what we might mean by Christian charity, but rather a doing what you can with your own interests in view. II. The image is borrowed from sea-trading. Ecclesiastes 11:1. (2) We should aim at the best way of teaching. X:7), and is carried away by the stream. 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