Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 Life is an adventure and Solomon used two illustrations to make this point. The first was a merchant sending out his ships (Ecclesiastes 11:1-2) in which faith is necessary. The merchant has no control over the circumstances. The ships face all kinds of perils, bad weather causing his ships to sink or they be the victim of piracy.
Life if it is truly lived is fraught with risk as most of us know especially in most of your businesses. But if you waited until everything was just right they would never venture out. This is where faith comes in. “Cast thy bread upon the waters” means you must step out in faith if you are going to bring a return on what you have been entrusted with.
Solomon himself was involved in all kinds of trade, so he understood this truth. it was natural for him to use this illustration (1 Kings 10:15,10:22). It would be months before his ships would return but when they did, the merchant’s faith and patience would be rewarded. Ecclesiastes 11:2 suggests that he hedged his wealth by not putting everything into one venture.
True faith is not presumption. “For you do not know” is a key phrase in this section (Ecclesiastes 11:2,5-6). No man knows the future, but he needs to walk not in fear but in trust in God. Not knowing the future should make us careful in what we plan and what we do. Ecclesiastes 11:2 might be interpreted, “Send your cargo on seven or eight ships, because some of them are bound to bring back a good return on the investment.”
Ecclesiastes 11:3 – God is in control of everything so it is important to see his hand in what is both obvious and in what appears random. Solomon in this verse speaks of expected events: ‘If the clouds are full of water, they will fall on the earth’, and unexpected events: And if a tree falls to the south or the north, there it shall lie.’ We can see some things coming, but others take us by surprise. The eye of faith sees God’s hand in all things. When we have this perspective things that may appear bad in time will prove to be blessings. It all depends on our confidence in God. Not one sparrow falls to the ground without his will (Matthew 10:29).
Solomon seems to be saying that the processes of creation go on without our worry, and we can’t change them anyway. So keep your eye on those processes and get on with your work. Consider the natural flow of creation and you will be able to gauge the right time or the suitable season so that you will avoid t costly mistakes that come when one reaps or sows at the wrong time
Ecclesiastes 11:4 Solomon has already said that there is, ‘A time to plant and a time to harvest what is planted’ (Ecclesiastes 3:2), but conditions will never be perfect. If all you do is wait for just the right weather there will be no sowing or reaping. The fact is, if we wait for the ideal moment we will rarely do anything. We need to make ‘the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil’ (Ephesians 5:16).
Paul refers to himself as ‘one born out of due time’ (1 Corinthians 15:8). In other words, he was not ready when Jesus revealed himself to him. The life of faith is an adventure, taking the opportunities that God presents to us. Our timing may not be right, but his is perfect (Galatians 4:4).
Ecclesiastes 11:5-6 Only God knows how, when, and where the wind blows. Likewise, he is the only one who watches the growth of the child within the mother’s womb. This passage brings to mind Jesus’ words to Nicodemus in John 3:8. The Holy Spirit is the one who opens hearts leading them to faith. We can only stand back in awe as we see His work in people’s lives. One hymn writer put it this way:
I know not how the Spirit moves – Convincing men of sin – Revealing Jesus in his Word – Creating faith in him – But I know whom I have believed – And am persuaded that he is able – To keep that which I’ve committed – Unto him against that day. When we trust him we can act each day walking in His Spirit. Morning and evening speaks of every part of the day, or at all times. Timothy was told to preach the Word, ‘in season and out of season’ (2 Timothy 4:2).
Ecclesiastes 11:7-8 This section begins with a description of joy and happiness and how we can experience it each day. Solomon describes the good life that God gives to man under the sun. Light is used often in the Old Testament, to describe God (Isaiah 60:19), and his covenant blessings (Psalm 27:1; Isaiah 45:7).
In the New Covenant, Jesus is referred to as light (John 1:4-5; 8:12; 9:5). Solomon is using “Light” to describe what it is to be truly alive (Job 3:20; Psalm 49:19). God created light, and saw that it was good (Genesis 1:3-4). Light is also related to honey (Judges 14:14) which in Psalm 19 relates to the Law of the Lord which is His Word.
The land promised to the Israelites flowed with honey (Exodus 3:8; Joshua 5:6). Here now Solomon talks about the sun as something that is pleasant for the eyes. Earlier, the sun was a metaphor for labor and futility a reminder of the mundane ways of life a reminder of the vanity of life (Ecclesiastes 1:3-9; 2:11, 2:17-22; 4:7).
But here the sun is the a joy and the source of life and a blessing to be thankful for. The farmer ‘makes hay when the sun shines’ and so too should we. We are to be grateful to God for the joyous moments we experience in this life under the sun. But there is the reminder in vs. 8 that our time here on earth is short and we should not forget that the ‘the days of darkness’. We are here for too short a time and should be mindful of each day and savor them.
These are the facts but the Believer has another perspective. His ultimate joy is eternal we are looking to a greater light that has risen in our lives, and will never set. In Jesus, there is no darkness (1 John 1:5), and in his eternal kingdom (Revelation 21:23).
Ecclesiastes 11:9 – Just because Solomon addresses the young here does not mean that it doesn’t apply to all of his readers. The emphasis on youth contrasts the theme of old age that follows in Ecclesiastes 12. We all have to watch our hearts and our eyes, because either or both can lead us into sin (Numbers 15:39; Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 5:27-30).
“Walk in the ways of your heart” is not an suggesting to go and satisfy the sinful desires within (Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:20-23). It is rather a reminder for young people to enjoy the special pleasures that belong to youth and can never be experienced again in the same way.
Those of us who are older need to remember that God expects young people to act like young people. The tragedy is that too many older people are trying to act like young people! Solomon’s warning is evidence that he doesn’t have sinful pleasures in mind: “God will bring you into judgment.”
God does give us “all things richly to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17), but it is always wrong to enjoy the pleasures of sin. The person who enjoys life in the will of God will have nothing to worry about when the Lord returns.
Ecclesiastes 11:10 Solomon counsels his readers to put anxiety out of their hearts (Matthew 6:24-34). The word translated pain is the Hebrew word for evil. Pain more times than not comes when we rebel against God and so Solomon calls us to put it away from us (2 Corinthians 7:1).
As we saw in Ecclesiastes 11:9, If we are living in the will of God, we will have the peace of God in our hearts (Philippians 4:6-9). The best way to have a happy life and to be content in old age is to walk rightly in our youth and avoid the things that will bring trouble later on. When in our youth we put God first we begin a trajectory that leads to life to all we come in contact with including our families. When we develop good habits of health and holiness we have a far better chance for happy years later in our lives as opposed to those who “sow their wild oats” and reap a harvest of sorrow. God is not mocked what we reap we sow (Galatians 6:7).
These years go by so quickly so we need to not waste our opportunities for preparing for the future.