Lessons from Nature, Sunlight, and Youth, Ecc 11:1-10

Ecc 11:1-10 is about lessons from nature, sunlight, and youth.

Scattering, Sowing, and Reaping

11:1 Cast is to send forth by throwing.  Bread can be literal or figurative.  Waters can be literal or figurative.  Herein we find interesting lessons from nature.

A good example is in Prov 31:20 “She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy”.  This is like casting her bread.  But notice, Prov 31:14 “She is like the merchants ships; she bringeth her food from afar”.  Merchant ships don’t go out empty.  The virtuous woman distributed to the poor and received something back later, like a merchant ship sailing the seas.  It goes out upon the waters with a commodity to one port and returns later with a different commodity.  Solomon’s navy returned once every three years, 1 Ki 10:22.

This principal is found in Prov 11:24-26 and Lk 6:38.  After many days indicates that it comes back in time, when you need it.

Bread can typify the word of God, Matt 4:4.  Waters can typify people, Rev 17:15.  When the word goes out it doesn’t return void, Is 55:10-11.  We have been broadcasting on the air waves for many years and have found many who have benefited by it.  After many days, we have seen many who have come here.

11:2 Give a portion to seven, eight, knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.  In other words, the way to prepare for evil times that will come in the future is to give it, not hoard it, and give it liberally.  Paul wrote about this in 1 Tim 6:17-19.

11:3 clouds full of rain do empty themselves.  The principal in nature that we should learn, stemming from the prior two verses, is that clouds don’t get full to retain the water that they hold.  When they are full, they empty themselves for the benefit of others, Is 55:10, seed to the sower, bread to the eater.  These are lessons from nature.

Likewise, when we are blessed with abundance, it is not for us to retain, but to empty ourselves for the benefit of others.  Jesus did this, the early church did this, the Macedonians did this, and even the poor widow, who was not full, emptied herself.

And this must be done during our life time.  Once we die, like the tree that falls, there is nothing more we can do under the sun.  When dad died, a friend of his said, “A big tree has fallen in the forrest today”.  And that was that.  Another of the great lessons from nature.

11:4 when it’s time to sow, it’s time to sow.  If the sower observes the wind, presumably so he doesn’t scatter his seed, (waiting for ideal wind conditions) he’s not going to sow.  Or he’s not going to finish sowing during his window of opportunity.  Likewise, when it’s time to reap, it’s time to reap.  If the reaper regards the clouds, waiting for the ideal weather, he might lose some of his crop production because it can then be too ripe to reap.

Years ago, Ron Sikes and I went to Mobile every Wednesday to street preach downtown and to deal with souls around the town square.  One Wednesday, it was raining hard and he asked me if I thought we should call it off that day.  In a sort of cocky reply I said, “Well, they die and go to hell in the rain, just like they do in the sunshine.  Let’s go”.  As it turns out, we met a lady standing under an overhang outside the courthouse, waiting for her ride.  While she was waiting, we were able to lead her to the Lord.

11:5 thou knowest not the way of the spirit, as in Jn 3:8

Thou knowest not how the bones grow in the womb, Ps 139:13-16 (she’s “with child” in her womb!)

And thou knowest not the works of God.  You can’t tell what God is doing, unless he has told you in his word.  And because of this…

11:6 sow in the morning and in the evening.  You can’t tell which will prosper.  As one preacher said, sow in the morning of your youth and in the evening of your old age, Ps 92:14.  The principal is that you should sow often and everywhere because you don’t know what God is going to do with it.  Don’t decide for God.

When Robert Moffatt, a Scottish missionary, was in Africa, he returned to Scotland to preach and make the need in Africa known.  One night he was scheduled to preach in a small church.  When he saw that there were only women in attendance, he thought about canceling the meeting, since women didn’t go to the mission field alone.  Instead, he preached.  What he didn’t know is that there was a teenage boy in the organ loft who heard his message. His job was to pump the bellows for the organ.  That boy decided to become a missionary after that sermon.  His name was David Livingstone.  You never know.  Learn from the lessons from nature.

Sunlight and darkness

11:7-8 light is sweet and pleasant to behold the sun.  I love sunrise, sunny days, sunsets.  Beautiful.  But if you live long, remember that days of darkness are coming.  They shall be many.  Certainly more than you care to bear.  All that cometh is vanity.


11:9 Rejoice in thy youth.  Let thy heart cheer thee.  Walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes.  Go for what you desire and experience all the sights you and see.  Dad said, “If there’s something in your heart that you feel you must do, do it.  Because the time will come when you’ll be too old to do it”.

One thing you must keep in mind, though, is that God will bring thee into judgment.  A young friend said “you don’t understand my drug life.  I’ll quit when I’m ready”.  He can’t quit while he’s in bondage to this sin.  However, even if he could when he wanted to, he still has to stand before God and be judged for this.

11:10 remove sorrow from thy heart, like depression, which is killing kids today.  Put away evil from thy flesh.  Don’t do anything evil to or with your flesh.  Evil takes its toll on you.  Like v.8, childhood and youth are also vanity.

To study the prior lesson, see Practical Wisdom. To study the final lesson in this series, see Youth, Aging, and Wise Words.