Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Ecclesiastes 11:3

If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Meteorology and Celestial Phenomena;   Thompson Chain Reference - Clouds;   Mercy;   Meteorology;   Rain;   Storms;   The Topic Concordance - Bearing Fruit;   Knowledge;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Rain;  
Dictionaries:
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Cloud, Cloud of the Lord;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ecclesiastes, the Book of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ecclesiastes, Book of;   Poetry;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ecclesiastes;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Rain;  
Encyclopedias:
The Jewish Encyclopedia - Meron;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for August 15;   Faith's Checkbook - Devotion for May 21;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

If the clouds be full of rain - Act as the clouds; when they are full they pour out their water indifferently on the field and on the desert. By giving charity indiscriminately, it may be that thou wilt often give it to the unworthy: but thou shouldst ever consider that he is an object of thy charity, who appears to be in real want; and better relieve or give to a hundred worthless persons, than pass by one who is in real distress.

Where the tree falleth, there it shall be - Death is at no great distance; thou hast but a short time to do good. Acquire a heavenly disposition while here; for there will be no change after this life. If thou die in the love of God, and in the love of man, in that state wilt thou be found in the day of judgment. If a tree about to fall lean to the north, to the north it will fall; if to the south, it will fall to that quarter. In whatever disposition or state of soul thou diest, in that thou wilt be found in the eternal world. Death refines nothing, purifies nothing, kills no sin, helps to no glory. Let thy continual bent and inclination be to God, to holiness, to charity, to mercy, and to heaven: then, fall when thou mayest, thou wilt fall well.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:3". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1832.

The Biblical Illustrator

Ecclesiastes 11:3

If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth.

Black clouds and bright blessings

It was raining very heavily when I was thinking over this text. When I came here I found that you had not had a drop of ram. This seemed to me like an example and an illustration of the sovereignty of God’s dispensations. In one part of the Church God’s grace descends in a flood, while another part remains as dry and arid as the wilderness itself. He hath the key of the rain, and it is for us to ask Him to give us of the dew and the rain of His Holy Spirit.

I. Comfort for the timid. The clouds are black, they lower; they shut out the sunlight; they obscure the landscape. The timid one looks up and says, “Alas! how black they are, and how they gather, fold on fold!” What makes them black? It is because they are full, and hence light cannot pierce them. And if they be full, what then? Why, then it will rain, and then the hot earth will be refreshed, and every little plant, and every tiny leaf and rootlet of that plant will suck up moisture, and begin to laugh for joy. If the clouds were not black, you might not expect rain. If your afflictions were not grievous, they would not be profitable. If your adversities did not pain and trouble you, they would not be blessed to you. We have heard some people say, “If this trouble had come in such and such a shape, I would not have minded it.” But God meant you to mind it, for it was in your minding it that it was blessed to you. I do not know--how can I tell--what is your particular trouble; but you may well believe that He who appointed it, He who measured it, He who has set its bounds, will bring you to the end of it, and prove His gracious design in it all. Do not think that God deals roughly with His children, and gives them needless pain. It grieves Him to grieve you. It is easy to have a faith that acts backwards, but faith that will act forwards from the point of your present emergency is the true faith that you want now. Hath God helped you out of one trouble after another, and is it to be supposed that He will leave you in this? Do ask, then, for grace that you may believe while you are still under the cloud, black as it looks, that it will empty itself in blessed rain upon you. So will it be on the largest possible scale in the whole Church of Christ. There are many clouds surrounding the Church of God just now, and I must confess that, with all the religious activity there is abroad, there is very much to cause us great sorrow. But we must not yield to fear. The Master knows.

II. An argument with the doubting and the desponding. It is a law of nature that a full thing begins to empty itself. When the cloud gets full, it no longer has the power of retaining its fluid contents, but it pours them down upon the earth. Well now, I want you to draw an argument from this. Our gracious God never makes a store of any good thing, but He intends to give it to us. Just think for a moment of God, our gracious Father. He is love. He is all goodness. He is a bottomless, shoreless sea, brimful of goodness He is full of pardoning goodness to forgive sin. He is full of faithful goodness to watch over His children; full of bounteous goodness to bestow upon them all that they want. Now, if there be such a plenitude of goodness in the leather, it must be for some object--not for Himself. Why should it be given to Himself? It must be there for His creatures. Is it not written that He delighteth in mercy? We know that He maketh the sun to shine upon the evil as well as upon the just. Then I, even though I be evil, will hope that this store of goodness in the heart of the everlasting Father is intended--some of it, at any rate--to be poured out upon me, poor unworthy me. Ah, troubled, doubting soul! think again; let me ask you this time to muse a little upon Jesus Christ the Son of the Father. Now, if thou believe Christ to be a cloud that is full of rain, for what reason is He full? Why, that He may empty Himself upon the earth. To proceed yet further, I would ask the doubter to look at the infinite fulness of power which is treasured up in the Holy Spirit. Is thy heart hard? He will empty His softening influence upon it. Is it dead? His quickening power shall there find a congenial sphere. Art thou dark? Then there is room for His light. Art thou sick? Then is there a province for His healing energy.

III. The text furnishes a lesson to Christians. The drift of the passage is, of course, to be gathered from the connection, and it was intended by Solomon to teach us liberality. “If your pocket is full, empty it out upon the poor and needy; and if God has endowed you with much of this world’s substance, look out for cases of necessity, and consider it as much the object of your existence to bestow help upon the needy, as it is the design in the creation of a cloud that it should empty itself upon the earth.” When a man once gets into the habit of giving to the cause of God, it becomes as much a delight to contribute of his substance as to pray for God’s bounty, or to drink in the promise. Let the wealthy empty themselves upon the earth, and this shall be the way to fill themselves. But, though not many of us are entrusted with much wealth, we have other aptitudes to be useful. Some Christians have a considerable amount of ability to serve the Lord. They are, perhaps, able to speak for the Master. Now, I think that wherever there is some knowledge of God’s Word, a personal acquaintance with its power, and a facility to speak, we should exercise our talent, if it be but one; and if we have ten, we should not keep one of the ten to ourselves. Some Christians have a large amount of experimental knowledge. They are not eloquent, they are not educated, but they are wise. If you have any experience, let me say to you--do, as you have opportunity, tell it out; empty it upon the earth. If you have gained some knowledge of God, communicate it. If you have proved Him, confess to a generation about you that He is a faithful God. Observe, lastly, when it is that the clouds do empty themselves. The text says, when they are full. This is a broad hint, I think, to the Christian; it tells him when to work. David was to attack the Philistines at a certain signal. “When thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry-trees, then thou shalt bestir thyself.” Take this as a Divine signal; when you are full, it is time for you to set about doing good, emptying yourselves upon the earth. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Ecclesiastes 11:3". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth,.... They do not retain it; sad would it be for the earth if they did; but they let it down softly and gently, in plentiful showers upon each of the parts of the earth without distinction, by which it is refreshed, and made fruitful; nor are they losers by it, for they draw up great quantities again out of the ocean, and so constantly answer the ends for which they are appointed. And so rich men, who are full of the good things of this world, should not keep them to themselves, and for their own use only; but should consider they are stewards under God, and for others, and should be like the full clouds, empty themselves; and give to those who want of what God has given them, freely and cheerfully, bountifully and plentifully, and that without respect of persons, imitating their God and Creator, who sendeth rain upon the just and the unjust, Matthew 5:45; and such in the issue are no losers, but gainers; they fill again as fast as they empty;

and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be; where the seed falls, and it grows up into a plant, and to a tree, there it continues, whether to the north or to the south; and so accordingly brings forth fruit, and such as it is men partake of it; to which purpose Jarchi, and who applies it to the disciple of a wise man, who is profitable in the place where he is, not only in life, but after death: or where the fruit of a tree fall, "there they are", so Aben Ezra reads the last clause in the plural number; that is, there are persons enough to gather the fruit; and so where a rich man is, there are poor enough about him to partake of his bounty: or as when a tree is cut down, let it fall where it will, there it abides, and is no more fruitful; so when a man is cut off by death, as he was then, so he remains; if a gracious and good man, and has done good, he is like a tree that falls to the south, he enters into the paradise of God, the joys of heaven; and if not a good man, and has not done good, he is like a tree that falls to the north, he goes into a state of darkness, misery, and distress; see Revelation 22:11; or however, be this as it will, he is no more useful in this world; and therefore it becomes men to do all the good they can in health and life, for there is none to be done in the grave where they are going: or else the sense is, that as when a tree falls, whether it be to the south or to the north, it matters not to the owner, there it lies, and is of the same advantage to him; so an act of beneficence, let it be done to what object soever, a worthy or an unworthy one, yet being done with a view to the glory of God and the good of men, it shall not lose its reward: and so this is an answer to the objection of some against giving, because they do not know whether the object proposed is deserving: though some think the same thing is intended by these metaphorical expressions, as is suggested in the latter part of Ecclesiastes 11:2, that evils or calamities may come upon men like heavy showers of rain, which wash away things; or like storms and tempests of rain, thunder and lightning, which break down trees, and cause them to fall to the north or to the south; and thus in like manner by one judgment or another men may be stripped of all their substance, and therefore it is right to make use of it while they have it.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:3". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

If the b clouds are full of rain, they empty [themselves] upon the earth: and if the c tree falleth toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.

(b) As the clouds that are full pour out rain, so the rich that have abundance must distribute it liberally.

(c) He exhorts to be liberal while we live: for after, there is no power.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:3". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

clouds — answering to “evil” (Ecclesiastes 11:2), meaning, When the times of evil are fully ripe, evil must come; and speculations about it beforehand, so as to prevent one sowing seed of liberality, are vain (Ecclesiastes 11:4).

tree — Once the storm uproots it, it lies either northward or southward, according as it fell. So man‘s character is unchangeable, whether for hell or heaven, once that death overtakes him (Revelation 22:11, Revelation 22:14, Revelation 22:15). Now is his time for liberality, before the evil days come (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

With this verse there is not now a transition, εἰς ἄλλο γένος (as when one understands Ecclesiastes 11:1. of beneficence); the thoughts down to Ecclesiastes 11:6 move in the same track. “When the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth: and if a tree fall in the south, or in the north - the place where the tree falleth, there it lieth.” Man knows not - this is the reference of the verse backwards - what misfortune, as e.g., hurricane, flood, scarcity, will come upon the earth; for all that is done follows fixed laws, and the binding together of cause and effect is removed beyond the influence of the will of man, and also in individual cases beyond his knowledge. The interpunction of 3 a : אם־ימּלאוּ העבים גּשׁם (not as by v. d. Hooght, Mendelss., and elsewhere העבים, but as the Venet. 1515, 21, Michael. העבים, for immediately before the tone syllable Mahpach is changed into Mercha ) appears on the first glance to be erroneous, and much rather it appears that the accentuation ought to be

אם־ימלאו העבים גשם על־הארץ יריקו

but on closer inspection גשׁם is rightly referred to the conditional antecedent, for “the clouds could be filled also with hail, and thus not pour down rain” (Hitz.). As in Ecclesiastes 4:10, the fut. stands in the protasis as well as in the apodosis. If A is done, then as a consequence B will be done; the old language would prefer the words והריקו ... נמלאו ( כי ) אם, Ewald, §355 b : as often as A happens, so always happens B. יריקוּ carries (without needing an external object to be supplied), as internally transitive, its object is itself: if the clouds above fill themselves with rain, they make an emptying, i.e., they empty themselves downwards. Man cannot, if the previous condition is fixed, change the necessary consequences of it.

The second conditioning clause: si ceciderit lignum ad austraum aut ad aquilonem, in quocunque loco cociderit ibi erit . Thus rightly Jerome. It might also be said: ואם־יפול עץ אם בדרום ואם בחפין, and if a tree falls, whether it be in the south or in the north; this sive ... sive would thus be a parenthetic parallel definition. Thus regarded, the protasis as it lies before us consists in itself, as the two veim in Amos 9:3, of two correlated halves: “And if a tree falls on the south side, and (or) if it fall on the north side,” i.e., whether it fall on the one or on the other. The Athnach, which more correctly belongs to יריקי, sets off in an expressive way the protasis over against the apodosis; that a new clause begins with veim yippol is unmistakeable; for the contrary, there was need for a chief disjunctive to בץ . Meqom is accus. loci for bimqom, as at Esther 4:3; Esther 8:17. Sham is rightly not connected with the relat. clause (cf. Ezekiel 6:13); the relation is the same as at Esther 1:7. The fut. יהוּא is formed from הוה, whence Ecclesiastes 2:22, as at Nehemiah 6:6, and in the Mishna ( Aboth, vi. 1;

(Note: Vid ., Baer, Abodath Jisrael, p. 290.)

Aboda zara, iii. 8) the part. הוה . As the jussive form יהי is formed from יהיה, so יהיה ( יהוה ) passes into יהוּ, which is here written יהוּא . Hitzig supposes that, according to the passage before us and Job 37:6, the word appears to have been written with א, in the sense of “to fall.” Certainly הוה has the root-signification of delabi, cadere, and derives from thence the meaning of accidere, exsistere, esse ( vid ., under Job 37:6); in the Book of Job, however, הוה may have this meaning as an Arabism; in the usus loq . of the author of the Book of Koheleth it certainly was no longer so used. Rather it may be said that יהוּ had to be written with an א added to distinguish it from the abbreviated tetragramm, if the א, as in אבוּא, Isaiah 28:12, and הל, Joshua 10:24, does not merely represent the long terminal vowel (cf. the German-Jewish דוא = thou, דיא = the, etc.).

(Note: Otherwise Ewald, §192b: יהוּא, Aram. of הוּא (as בּוא ) = הוא .)

Moreover, יהוּא, as written, approaches the Mishnic inflection of the fut. of the verb הוה ; the sing. there is יהא, תּהא, אהא, and the plur. יהוּ, according to which Rashi, Aben Ezra, and Kimchi interpret יהוּא here also as plur.; Luzzatto, §670, hesitates, but in his Commentary he takes it as sing., as the context requires: there will it (the tree) be, or in accordance with the more lively meaning of the verb הוה : there will it find itself, there it continues to lie. As it is an invariable law of nature according to which the clouds discharge the masses of water that have become too heavy for them, so it is an unchangeable law of nature that the tree that has fallen before the axe or the tempest follows the direction in which it is impelled. Thus the future forms itself according to laws beyond the control of the human will, and man also has no certain knowledge of the future; wherefore he does well to be composed as to the worst, and to adopt prudent preventive measures regarding it. This is the reference of Ecclesiastes 11:3 looking backwards. But, on the other hand, from this incalculableness of the future-this is the reference of Ecclesiastes 11:3 looking forwards-he ought not to vie up fresh venturesome activity, much rather he ought to abstain from useless and impeding calculations and scruples.

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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:3". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1854-1889.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.

The clouds — Learn, O man, the practice of liberality from the very lifeless creatures, from the clouds; which when they are filled with water, do not hoard it up, but plentifully pour it forth for the refreshment both of the fruitful field and the barren wilderness. Therefore, let us just not bring forth the fruits of righteousness, because death will shortly cut us down, and we shall then be determined to unchangeable happiness or misery, according as our works have been.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:3". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Ecclesiastes 11:3 If the clouds be full of rain, they empty [themselves] upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.

Ver. 3. If the clouds be full of rain.] As the sun draws up vapours into the air, not to retain them there, but to return them to the earth, for its relief, and the creatures’ comfort, so those that have attracted to themselves much riches should plentifully pour them out for the benefit of their poorer brethren. Clouds, when full of great and strong rain, as the word here signifies, pour down amain; and the spouts run, and the eaves shed, and the presses overflow, and the aromatic trees sweat out their precious oils; so should rich men be ready to distribute, willing to share. But it happens otherwise, for commonly the richer the harder; and those that should be as clouds to water the earth, as a common blessing, are either "waterless clouds," as St Jude hath it, or at best they are but as waterpots, that water a few spots of ground only in a small garden. The earth is God’s purse, (a) as one saith, and rich men’s houses are his storehouses. This the righteous rich man knoweth, and therefore he "disperseth," as a steward for God; "he giveth to the poor; his righteousness," and his riches too, "endureth for ever." [Psalms 112:9] Whereas the wicked rich man retaineth his fulness to rot with him; he feedeth upon earth like a serpent, and striveth, like a toad, to die with much mould in his mouth, and is therefore bidden by St James to "weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon him," for his cursed hoard of evilgotten and worse kept goods. The rottenness of his riches, the canker of his cash, the moth of his garments, "shall be a witness against him, and eat up his flesh as fire." [James 5:1-3] He shall be sure to be arraigned as an arrant thief, as a cursed cheat; for that, having a better thing by him, he brings a worse; [Malachi 1:14] and being a rich man, he makes himself poor, lest he should do good to the poor. As Pope Alexander V said of himself that when he was a bishop he was rich, when a cardinal he was poor, and when he was pope he was a beggar. I should sooner have believed him if he had said as his successor, Pius Quintus, did, Cum essem religiosus, sperabam bene de salute animae meae; cardinalis factus extimui; pontifex creatus pene despero: (b) When I was first in orders, without any farther ecclesiastical dignity, I had good hopes of my salvation; when a cardinal, I feared myself; but now that I am pope, I am almost out of hope.

And if the tree fall toward the south,] i.e., Which way soever it groweth, it bears fruit; so should rich men be rich in good works, [1 Timothy 6:18] and being fat olive trees, they should be, as David, [Psalms 52:8] green olive trees, full of good fruits. Or thus: Trees must down, and men must die; and as trees fall southward or northward, so shall men be set either at the right hand of the judge, or at the left, according as they have carried themselves towards Christ’s poor members. [Matthew 25:31-46] Up, therefore, and be doing while life lasteth, and so lay hold upon eternal life. Mors atra impendet agenti. Where the boughs of holy desires aud good deeds are most and greatest, on that side, no doubt, the tree will fall; but being fallen, it can bear no fruit for ever.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:3". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Ecclesiastes 11:3

I. In the first proverb in chap. xi.—"Cast thy bread upon the waters," etc.—do we not see, no less than in the parable of the sower, the common work of man as a tiller of the ground turned into the symbol and token of his life as an heir of God's kingdom? The words of the Preacher say to each man in the common daily tasks in which his life is spent, to each in his vocation and ministry, Do that which is right and true always; let acts of kindness be scattered freely. The seed never fails of fruit somewhere or at some time. The harvest may be a long way off, yet after many days thou shalt find.

II. The next verse gives in part the interpretation of the parable, in part presents a new one. "Give a portion to seven;" yes, and if an eighth appear at thy gate, send him not away empty: let him be a welcome guest to thee. Do good not according to the measure which thou appointest to thyself, but to the opportunities that God gives thee.

III. The text is in perfect harmony with this teaching. Before, there was the earnest call to well-doing; here the man who would use his life rightly and be what God meant him to be is warned against the perils of the overanxious, over-reflective temper. All the great thinkers of the world tell us, as with one voice, that the future which God appoints will come, for good or evil, joy or sorrow; that it is unwise in any man to anticipate the worst. Let him do the right thing at the present hour, and then he has done all that in him lies to make his path clear, and he may leave the rest to God. No temper is more fatal to energy, manliness, usefulness, than this of anxiety and fear.

E. H. Plumptre, Kings College Sermons, p. 40.


References: Ecclesiastes 11:3.—J. Baldwin Brown, Pulpit Analyst, vol. iii., p. 189. Ecclesiastes 11:4.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. vi., p. 292; H. P. Liddon, Old Testament Outlines, p. 163. Ecclesiastes 11:5.—Ibid., vol. x., p. 55.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:3". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/ecclesiastes-11.html.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: learn, O man, the practice of liberality from the very lifeless creatures, from the clouds; which when they are filled with water, do not hoard it up, or keep it to themselves, but plentifully pour it forth for the refreshment both of the fruitful field and of the barren wilderness.

In the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be: these words contain either,

1. An argument to persuade men to charity, because they must shortly fall or die, and then all opportunity of being charitable will be lost, and they must expect certainly and eternally to reap whatsoever they have sown, whether it hath been mercy or unmercifulness. Or rather,

2. An answer to a common objection against it, because we are not certain whether the person who desires our charity doth really need it, or be worthy of it. To this he answers, As a tree when it falls, either by the violence of the wind, or being cut down by its owner’s order, it is not considerable whether it falls southward or northward, for there it lies ready for the master’s use; so thy charity, though it may possibly be misapplied by thee, or abused by the receiver, yet being conscientiously given by thee, it shall assuredly return to thee, and thou shalt reap the fruit of it.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:3". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

3.If the tree fall — The idea of a reversal of fortune is continued. A “tree” by the rivers of water, fully flourishing, may be undermined and washed out in time, when the full clouds send down their floods, and the tree falls and lies utterly helpless. So one now prospering in trade, or, like Wolsey, in politics, may in an evil time “fall,” to lift up himself no more. Then if he, like “the tree,” has blessed others with shelter and generous fruit, they will take hold and lift him up.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:3". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Ecclesiastes 11:3. If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves, &c. — Learn, O man, the practice of liberality from the very lifeless creatures, from the clouds; which, when they are filled with water, do not hoard it up, but plentifully pour it forth, for the refreshment both of the fruitful field and the barren wilderness. And if the tree fall, &c. — As if he had said, Therefore, let us just now bring forth the fruits of righteousness, because death will shortly cut us down, and we shall then be determined to unchangeable happiness or misery, according as our works have been.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:3". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

If the tree fall, &c. The state of the soul is unchangeable, when once she comes to heaven or hell: and the soul that departs this life in the state of grace, shall never fall from grace; as on the other side, a soul that dies out of the state of grace, shall never come to it. But this does not exclude a place of temporal punishment for such souls as die in the state of grace: yet not so as to be entirely pure; and therefore they shall be saved, indeed, yet so as by fire, 1 Corinthians iii. 13, 14, 15. (Challoner) --- After death, none can merit. (Worthington) --- "He who shall not have cultivated his field, (the soul) shall after this life experience the fire of purgation, or eternal punishment." (St. Augustine, de Gen. contra Man. iii. 20.) (Haydock) --- The souls in purgatory have their names inscribed in heaven, like the ancient saints, who were detained in the bosom of Abraham. (Calmet) --- They fall, therefore, to the south. Let people dispense their alms to all, as the clouds rain upon the just and unjust, (Haydock) upon the cultivated and the barren land, and let them do it before death. They know not how soon it may lay them low. (Calmet) --- By looking at the branches of a tree, we may conclude which way it will fall; so we may form a judgment of our future state, by reflecting on our present dispositions. "Our branches are our desires, by which we stretch ourselves to the south, if they be spiritual," &c. (St. Bernard, ser. xlix.) The liberal are not concerned where they bestow charity. People will gather up the fruit both on the north and south, and they who have given alms will find them (Abenezra; Mercer.) laid up in the heavenly tabernacles. (Haydock) --- This agrees with the sequel. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:3". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

"If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies."

Points To Note:

2 "speaks of a storm and means that it is inevitable that disasters sometimes will occur. "If clouds are full" means that when the time for such a calamity comes, it cannot be avoided" (Garrett p. 338). 2. The idea also seems to be that the future is beyond our control as are the acts of God in nature. 3. "The two examples given here---the clouds which follow their own laws and times, not ours, and the fallen tree which has consulted no-one"s convenience" (Kidner p. 97). 4. "When the evil day comes, we must bend to the blow, we are powerless to avert it, the future can be neither calculated nor controlled" (P.P. Comm. p. 276). "The laws of nature are fixed so that man should make use of the present opportunities for doing good, before some action of nature (which is unseen and unavoidable) cuts off the opportunity. Man may fret or even suffer over too much rain or too little, but he cannot control it" (Kidwell p. 265). Even in our present day of advanced technology, we are still completely helpless in face of adverse weather.

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:3". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1999-2014.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.

Clouds - answering to "evil" (Ecclesiastes 11:2); meaning, When the times of evil are fully ripe, evil must come; and speculations about it beforehand, so as to prevent one sowing seed of liberality, are vain, (Ecclesiastes 11:4). So far from being a ground for not giving, they are the very ground for giving. "Clouds" and "rain" represent the divine judgments (Ecclesiastes 12:2; Psalms 18:11). When the measure of sin is "full," and the clouds of divine wrath gather, the storm will surely break forth. Forestall it by godly liberality while you may (Matthew 24:28).

Tree - once that the storm uproots it, it lies either northward or southward, according as it fell. So man's character is unchangeable, whether for hell or heaven, once that death overtakes him. Now is his time for becoming a new man in faith and love. The tree represents the now overshadowing world-power which, when once it hath fallen, cannot be raised again by man's power.

Shall not sow. Sow thy charity in faith, not yielding to despondency and inactivity because of the threatening aspect of the times. Toward the close of Solomon's reign things wore a gloomy look, (1 Kings 11:9-40; 1 Kings 12:1-33.) The wind might no doubt blow away the seed, and the clouds injure the crops; but the result rests with God (Ecclesiastes 9:10). So in Ecclesiastes 11:1 man is told to 'cast his bread-corn' on the seemingly unpromising "waters." The farmer would get on badly who, instead of sowing and reaping, spent his time in watching the wind and clouds.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(3) The world is ruled by fixed laws, the operation of which man has no power to suspend.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:3". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.
the clouds
1 Kings 18:45; Psalms 65:9-13; Isaiah 55:10,11; 1 John 3:17
if the tree
Matthew 3:10; Luke 13:7; 16:22-26
Reciprocal: Genesis 1:6 - Let there;  Genesis 1:7 - above;  Job 36:20 - cut;  Job 40:12 - in;  Ecclesiastes 9:10 - for;  Malachi 3:10 - pour you out;  Revelation 22:11 - that is unjust

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:3". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/ecclesiastes-11.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Ecclesiastes 11:3. Clouds and rain are a usual image of the judgments of God, and of the troubles sent by him. Compare in respect of "clouds," Isaiah 19:1; Psalms 97:2; Psalms 18:10; Nahum 1:3; Jeremiah 4:13; Revelation 1:7 : in regard to "rain," compare Song of Solomon 2:11; Isaiah 4:6; Matthew 7:24-25. Clouds and rain are employed as designations of troubles also in Ecclesiastes 12:2. The thought is identical with that expressed in the words of the Lord —"where the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together." When the measure of sin is filled up, and the clouds of divine wrath are therefore gathered together, the storm will inevitably break; in the day when such an outbreak is imminent, every one should ask earnestly in his heart, "how shall I receive thee, and how shall I meet thee?" in order that he may not be swept away by the wickedness of the world.—The connection between the first and second part of the verse is to be explained from the fact that in heavy storms trees are not unfrequently cast down by the lightning and gusts of wind (compare Psalms 29). The tree is here that of the Persian Empire. No human power will be in a position to delay its fall when it has once begun, or to raise it up again after it is down. He who is judged by God remains judged. Trees are a common symbol of the mighty. In Isaiah 10:18, the trees of Assyria are its great men. Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon is represented under the image of a proud tree in Daniel 4:19—"the tree art thou, O king." In Ezekiel 31:3 ff, Assyria is introduced as a cedar of Lebanon, with goodly foliage, and its top reaching unto the clouds. See also Revelation 7:1.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:3". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/ecclesiastes-11.html.