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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Ecclesiastes 11

 

 

Verses 1-10

Ecclesiastes 11:1. Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.

Hoard not thy bread; for if thou dost, it will mildew, it will be of no use to thee. Cast it on the waters; scatter it abroad; give it to the unworthy men if need be. Some here have seen an allusion to the casting of seed into the Nile when it overflowed its banks. When the waters subsided, the corn would grow, and be gathered in “after many days.”

Ecclesiastes 11:2. Give a portion to seven,

And if that be a perfect number, give beyond it,

Ecclesiastes 11:2. And also to eight;

Give to more than thou canst afford to give to. Help some who are doubtful, some who are outside of the perfect number, and give them a portion, a fair portion. Our Saviour went beyond Solomon; for he said, “Give to every man that asketh of thee.”

Ecclesiastes 11:2. For thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.

Thou knowest not what need there may be of thy help; nor what need may come to thee, and how thou thyself mayest be helped by those whom thou helpest now.

Ecclesiastes 11:3. If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth;

The tree falls the way it is inclined; but when it has fallen, there it must be. God grant that you and I may fall the right way when the axe of death hews us down! Which way are we inclined?

Ecclesiastes 11:4-5. He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child; even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.

There are great mysteries which we can never comprehend. God alone knows how the soul comes into the body, or even how the body is fashioned. This must remain with him. We do not know how sinners are regenerated. We know not how the Spirit of God works upon the mind of man, and transforms the sinner into a saint. We do not know. There are some who know too much already. I have not half the desire to know that I have to believe and to love. Oh, that we loved God more, and trusted God more! We might then get to heaven if we knew even less than we do.

Ecclesiastes 11:6. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.

You cannot make the gospel enter into men’s hearts. You cannot tell how it does enter and change them. The Spirit of God does that; but your duty is to go on telling it out. Go on spreading abroad the knowledge of Christ; in the morning, and in the evening, and all day long, scatter the good seed of the kingdom. You have nothing to do with the result of your sowing; that remains with the Lord. That which you sow in the morning may prosper, or the seed that you scatter in the evening; possibly God will bless both. You are to keep on sowing, whether you reap or not.

Ecclesiastes 11:7. Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun: But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity.

Take Christ away, and this is a truthful estimate of human life. Put Christ into the question, and Solomon does not hit the mark at all. If we have Christ with us, whether the days are light or dark, we walk in the light, and our soul is happy and glad; but apart from Christ, the estimate of life which is given here is an exactly accurate one — a little brightness and long darkness, a flash and then midnight. God save you from living a merely natural life! May you rise to the supernatural! May you get out of the lower life of the mere animal into the higher life of the regenerated soul! If the life of God be in you, then you shall go from strength to strength like the sun that shineth unto the perfect day.

Ecclesiastes 11:9. Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.

Young man, will you dare, then, to follow your passions, and the devices of your own heart, with this ate the back, “God will bring thee into judgment?” Oh no, the advice of Solomon apparently so evil, is answered by warning at the end, which is also true, —

Ecclesiastes 11:10. Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.

“Remove sorrow,” or rather, anger, ambition, or anything else that would cause sorrow, “from thy heart; and put away evil from thy flesh.” Let not thy fleshly nature rule thee; thou art in the period when flesh is strong towards evil, when “vanity” is the ruin of many.

This exposition consisted of readings from Ecclesiastes 11-12


Verses 6-10

Ecclesiastes 11:6. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.

It is our business to sow the good seed of the kingdom, to sow it broadcast, to sow it at all times: “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand.” The result of our sowing does not rest with us, but with the great Lord of the harvest. Some of the seed may fall by the wayside, some among thorns, some upon a rock, or upon rocky ground with only a thin layer of earth; but if God has called us to be sowers, and we really sow gospel seed, some of it will fall into good ground, and bring forth fruit, thirtyfold, sixtyfold, or even a hundredfold.

Ecclesiastes 11:7. Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun:

And as it is so pleasant for the natural eyes to behold the natural sun, how much more pleasant is it for the spiritual eye to behold the Sun of righteousness! Sweet as the light of the sun is, the light of the Sun of righteousness is far sweeter.

Ecclesiastes 11:8-9. But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity. Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.

Nobody in his sense supposes that Solomon exhorted young men to walk according to their own heart and according to the sight of their eyes. This is a common way of speaking; as we may say to a man who is going to excess in drink, “Well, drink your full, and be drunken; but you will have to suffer for it. It will certainly exact a penalty at your hands by-and-by.” Nobody would be so foolish as to say that we had exhorted the man to drunkenness. On the contrary, we did, as it were, warn him not to continue in his evil course by reminding him of the penalty which would assuredly follow. So, here, Solomon seems to say, “Do this if you will; do it if you dare; but remember that there is a judgment day coming, and that God will judge you for all these things, and according to these things will he measure out your doom.”

Ecclesiastes 11:10. Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.

There is no doubt that, if we were holy, we should be happy; so, if we advise men to put away sorrow from their heart, we must remind them that they cannot do it except by putting away sin. The roots of evil must be cleared right away; else, to out down the shoots, and leave the roots, may be but to strengthen the evil in the long run. The removal of sorrow can only be effected by going deeper, and clearing the heart of sin; and this can only be accomplished by God’s grace.

This exposition consisted of readings from Ecclesiastes 11:6-10; Ecclesiastes 12.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/ecclesiastes-11.html. 2011.

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