Solomon began Ecclesiastes declaring all is vanity under the sun. In chapter 11, we look “beyond his gloomy vistas to see God.” (McComiskey) In spite of life’s uncertainties and the certainty of death, we can enjoy life this side of eternity. Derrick Kidner offers a concise conclusion to the book, “Be bold! Be joyful! Be godly!”
The following are notes from William Barrick’s commentary of Ecclesiastes:
What a person doesn’t know (11:1-6)
V1 Cast – send, let loose
The numbers 7 or 8 are representative of an infinite number
This passage is similar in meaning to the parable of the talents (Matt 25)
The man who doesn’t invest is the one condemned in the parable
V2 This proverb suggests being charitable in either an agricultural or maritime pursuit. Investment, risk, and faith are involved – it is a call to act
The future – is hidden, uncertain
V3 Man doesn’t know when rain comes or when a tree will fall, however, these are covered in God’s plan.
V4 If one waits for perfect conditions (to sow or to reap) they run the risk of crop loss or failure
V5 Man can’t see patterns of the wind or growth of bones in an unborn child but God controls both. He governs things that people are not in control of.
V6 Seems to convey the idea that man must work continuously (a full days work) in order to see the harvest. We must be busy (active, in motion) for God to steer us and bring success
Derek Tidball offers this takeaway
- Don’t be paralyzed by inevitability
- Don’t be paralyzed by speculation
- Don’t be paralyzed by ignorance.
Galatians 6:9 “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
Rejoice in the light (11:7,8)
V7 Rejoice – enjoy life don’t just endure it.
V8 Remember the dark times (they are many): suffering, old age, dying
Trials serve to make the joy we do encounter sweeter
Vanity – is defined as a breath, vapor
Psalm 118:24 “This is the day that the Lord has made let us be glad and rejoice in it”
Again rejoice (11:9,10)
V9 Embrace youth while you are young, all too soon adulthood comes.
4 times previously in this chapter we are encouraged to be busy in the context of “we do not know.” In verse 9 we are told “yet know” God will judge us. Priority must be given to doing the will of God, not following our own desires (in other words, don’t make your desires a priority)
v10 Remove the pain, grief and anger from your heart, otherwise we will miss the pleasant things of life. Deal with issues of pain, grief and anger but don’t allow them to rule your life. Childhood and the prime of life is fleeting
Chapter 11 sets the stage for the closing section of Ecclesiastes, a theme of old age and end-of life experiences. Solomon transitions from “seeing the sun” (residing in God’s will) to a reminder that life “under the sun” eventually brings death.