Online Bible Commentary
Cast Your Bread
Ecclesiastes 11:1 Cast your bread upon the waters, For you will find it after many days. 2 Give a serving to seven, and also to eight, For you do not know what evil will be on the earth. 3 If the clouds are full of rain, They empty themselves upon the earth; And if a tree falls to the south or the north, In the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie. 4 He who observes the wind will not sow, And he who regards the clouds will not reap. 5 As you do not know what is the way of the wind, Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, So you do not know the works of God who makes everything. 6 In the morning sow your seed, And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, Either this or that, Or whether both alike will be good. (NKJV)
In this passage, Solomon, made the wisest man in the world by God, continues with his wise sayings. He writes of taking wise and prudent action in the face of an uncertain world.
He counsels to “Cast your bread upon the waters” (v. 1a). We should be generous with our “bread”, our blessings. We should use our lives to bless others, and those blessings will return to us as blessings from God (v. 1a).
We should "give a serving to seven, and also to eight”, meaning to bless many people (v. 2a). We “do not know what evil will be on the earth” (v. 2b), what calamities may come. Things change, things happen.
We should bless others while we can, because we live in an uncertain world. We may not be able to, at some point. We know for sure that evil will come at one time or another, just as the clouds will empty themselves when full (v. 3a). Once the calamity happens, the “tree falls”, it will be too late for action (v. 3b). Therefore we should act without waiting for the perfect time.
The overly cautious farmer may wind up losing his opportunity (v. 4). In the same way, those who are too cautious, waiting for the conditions to be perfect, are in risk of losing their window of opportunity.
We do not know what will happen, just as we do not know which direction the “wind” will blow or “how the bones grow in the womb” (v. 5a). We “do not know the works of God” (v. 5a). God works in mysterious ways.
Therefore, we should be always working to bless others with our lives. We should be working “morning” and “evening” (v. 6a), while we can. We should be working in many ways because we do not know which efforts will succeed and which will not succeed (v. 6b). One work may succeed while another fails (v. 6c). Or, God willing, perhaps all will succeed (v. 6d). The fact is that we do not know what will happen, so we should always be working to bless others.
Solomon is not calling for us to be workaholics. Previously in this book he has preached living balanced lives. There is a time for everything under the sun.
Instead he is calling for us not to be overly cautious in life. If we wait for the perfect time to do things, we will wind up doing nothing. For example, if we wait for the perfect time to get married, to have children, or even to enter the Lord’s service, we may miss that window.
There is never a perfect time to do anything. There is a right time, but not a perfect time. The two are not the same. The right time is when opportunity presents itself and we know it is from God.
Opportunity, as do all things, comes from God. Through His providence he puts people, places, and circumstances in our lives. To be overly cautious is often to miss His call upon our lives.
Prayer helps us to act, or to wait on acting. Listen to the Lord. He is that still small voice in your heart. If you are abiding in Him you will be able to ascertain God’s will for your life. You will know when and how to bless others. But make sure you do “cast your bread.”