Cast Your Bread On The Waters
Verse 1 Future Troubles are Certain
The purpose of this chapter is to warn about troubles that must happen, troubles that will certainly happen and cannot be avoided. There will be troubles in the country across the world. The enemies will attack. Or there will not be enough food. Or there will be other terrible troubles. There will be troubles in people’s lives. They may become sick. They will become old and weak and in the end they will die. Such things have happened to every person that has ever lived and it would be foolish to imagine that it would not happen to us. Solomon makes the same kind of statements that others have made in similar circumstances. Jesus also did that too. (Mark 13:15-19) In troubles that cannot be avoided people should make preparations for the trouble. Not knowing what the trouble is breeds a desperate plan for a desperate situation. It is hard to prepare when you no not what the trouble is.
Solomon tells us to cast our bread upon the waters. Many have tried to work out the meaning of these words. Some have guessed that it means to send ships to trade grain. Or to sow grain in muddy pools when the streams flood. Those plans offer some possibility but desperate people do stupid things in hope for success. If this is another word picture then it could mean that it is useless to try and save our possessions. The trouble could be so severe that it would be impossible to save anything. If you wish to have bread then you must do even more desperate things now.
Perhaps it is to diversify and send our possessions in many direction in hope that one direction will be safe. Perhaps in the future you will be able to recover some of them. As a small relief there are promises of generous giving in the Bible. (Proverbs 22:9; Isaiah 58:10; Malachi 3:10; Luke 6:38; 2 Corinthians 9:6-11)
Verse 2 A Friend in Trouble
When great trouble comes some people place their hope in their possessions and wealth while other place their hope in the friends that they have. Solomon believed that the difficulties would be very severe and told us to spread our possessions and to make as many friends as we could. The hope is that one or the other plan might succeed. People should not wait until the troubles start but make preparations ahead of the troubles.
The Bible does encourage us to love other people. (Luke 10:27-37) But the reason for our love for others should not be to gain benefits for ourselves. (Matthew 5:46-47; Luke 14:12-14) We should show God’s kindness to other people and especially the poor. For this act of Godly love He will reward us, not other people. (Proverbs 19:17)
There is another problem with a plan to make many friends more important than the lack of sincere reasons. When people place their trust in possessions or friends then they are not trusting God. In all circumstances great or small we are to place our trust in God. God alone gives security too our lives. (Psalm 62:1-2) Even the greatest of friends are weak and we cannot place our faith in them. (Psalm 62:9) God is almighty, God loves His people, and in Him alone we should put our trust. (Psalm 62:11-12)
If we refuse to trust God then we are left to desperate plans like those in Revelation 6:15. When the terrible trouble comes we must be ready. We also must know that even the best plans will fail. Our friends will not be loyal, our money will have no value, and if we find food it will not satisfy. When the end comes God will judge.
Verse 3 Troubles That Nobody Can Do Anything About
People generally hope that the will never face any real sever troubles and if they do they will be able to deal with them. There will be troubles in everyone’s life over time. Some of these troubles will be sever. Of course in the end we all will die. Nothing can prevent that.
Therefore, we can compare our lives to the day when the dark storm clouds fill the sky and we know on that day it will rain. Throughout our whole lives we know that trouble is coming and we know that death is approaching. The evidence is clear to that fact. Death is like the fall of a tree, after it has fallen it cannot be returned to its position.
So a person’s death is permanent and it separates that life from everything in this world. That person’s body returns to the earth and the spirit must stand before God and be judged. What we do in this life then has eternal effect. It matters if a person has a relationship with God. It is important for us to confess our evil deeds and repent for them. It is important that we allow God to rule our lives. There is no time for delay, as after death is will be too late to trust God. God has told us that we must trust Him today. (Hebrews 4:7)
Verse 4 Troubles That Nobody Can Avoid
The farmer watches the weather carefully. There is the right time to sow and there is the right time to gather. If the weather is bad at these times sowing and harvesting cannot be done. In verse four we have a word picture of a very desperate situation. The weather will not be suitable for sowing and harvesting. The wind and the clouds are evidence that a terrible storm is approaching. If the wind causes the trees to fall in the storm, then there is no hope for the crops. People will be worried and do desperate things, carry our stupid plans with hope that something will succeed.
All of this is a word picture of people’s lives. All people realize that death is approaching. Many of them know that God will judge them after their death. But they refuse to trust Him. They will not ask God to save them. Instead they carry out their stupid schemes to try and save themselves.
Some believe that they can save themselves by their good works. Solomon has told us that our good works on earth achieves nothing. (Ecclesiastes 2:22-23) Some believe that their wealth will save them but at death all their money remains in the world. And some believe that a proper attitude will save them but this idea is also wrong. (Ecclesiastes 7:15-20)
The Bible tells us that we can only have a right relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. (John 14:6) Because Jesus gave His live as a sacrifice for our sin debt God can forgive us. (John 3:14-16) Jesus is the only way to prepare for the judgment of God.
No one knows that appointed time of their death so now is the time to start a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 6:2) We may have made our excuses but the time is now and today is the day, it is the only day that we have.
Verse 5 God’s Work Astonishes Us
The work that people do is easy to understand. The work of people is weak and the best efforts do not achieve much. The work of people is public and everyone can see the true nature of their work.
God’s work is different and it is astonishing. Before the baby is born God forms the body. This is work that we cannot see. (Psalm 139:14-16) But we can see the wonderful results of His work.
If the efforts of man’s work is as weak breath, then the work of God is like the powerful wind. (Acts 2:2) We cannot see from where such winds come. (Job 38:22-24) We may not understand how God causes them to blow but we can feel their power.
As weak as people’s work is their foolish behavior is terrible. (Ecclesiastes 10:5-11) If man knew the full work of this world that God has created it would be greater than anything man could imagine. We cannot see the full works of God and we cannot understand it neither do we know God’s plan.
If we want to know God’s plan it can be found in the Bible. (Ephesians 3:2-11) The plan of God is that people can be born again into a spiritual relationship with Him. (John 3:7; John 1:12-13) At that time, like a powerful wind, God’s Spirit will work in and through them. (John 3:6; John 3:8) This is not understandable by our minds. (John 3:9-10) But it is all possible through Christ death. (John 3:16-17) In the power of the Holy Spirit people can work in great strength to do the work of God. (Galatians 6:8-9)
Verse 6 Can Our Work Succeed?
Solomon has already urged the people to not be lazy but now he expresses the special reason to be busy. Solomon believes that the great troubles will soon come. So he is urging the people to carry out their work now as they may not have another opportunity.
Solomon has already said that the time may not be right for the sowing of seed, as the weather is not right. (4) The people’s effort may not be fruitful but the work is necessary. It is only God who can bring a good harvest and the people must do their part even as their best efforts are weak.
We are looking at another word picture of our lives. We want good things to happen but we want them in our human strength. But we do not have the power to cause these good things to happen. The success of our efforts depend upon God. (Psalm 127:102) It is the work of God and that is what matters. It is God who makes are weak efforts fruitful. This is the reason that our most important work is the work that is the work of God.
The people asked Jesus how they could do God’s work and He answered them in the Gospel of John (John 6:28-29) Jesus told them to believe in the one whom God sent meaning that they should believe in Him. Jesus is the one whom God sent into the world. (John 17:3) The words of Jesus are the words that God gave Him to speak. (John 7:16) If we believe in Jesus and follow His commands God gives us a wonderful promise, eternal life. (John 3:16)
Verses 7-8 The Light of Life and the Days of Darkness
Our desire is for life and not death. Life is precious and our life is a gift from God. Even as the sun surrounds us with its light and warmth, so too our life offers us many opportunities. Our greatest opportunity in life is to know God the giver of our life. God is the giver of the prefect light. (James 1:17) Everything that is good and perfect comes from God. When we know God we belong to that light. (1 Thessalonians 5:5) When we know the light of God darkness does not cause us fear even when that darkness is death. (Psalm 23:4; Luke 1:78-79) God gives us eternal life and the darkness will never overcome His light and the life we have from God. (John 1:4-5)
Many reject a life that never ends, as they choose not to serve God. They choose to follow their own desire and life by their own emotions. They do not want to know God and would not obey Him. When their time of judgment comes they will not be ready to face God.
Solomon uses darkness to mean death. He has chosen darkness to show that the good things in life had ended for that person. Instead of everlasting life that person will suffer pain and darkness. This is not the description of the one who has eternal life so it is the one who faces God’s eternal judgment. For this reason Solomon urges people to choose the right relationship with God.
Verse 9 Enjoy Life – But Remember God’s Judgment
Young people learn quickly how to enjoy life. For the young life is a series of adventure and opportunities. They see no limit to their possibilities as all things seem new.
Solomon’s purpose is to warn people, especially the young that God will judge the things that we do. People can live by their desires and be controlled by their emotions but God will judge these things in the end. Solomon’s message is a sever warning against doing whatever our hearts desire. Warning against falling to every temptation of the evil one. In all the things we do God will be our judge.
We have already seen what God’s judgment of these things must be and we know that our natural desires are evil. We know of all the wrong that we have done in our life. We know that we have been disobedient to God’s Word. And we know that most often we chose to do these things that are displeasing to God. None will face the judgement of God and be found not guilty. (Romans 3:23)
We all are God’s creation and we must be mindful of our relationship with Him. Either we know Him and have peace or we reject Him and live in fear of the day we stand before Him.
No one can adhere to the Word of God perfectly so we must learn to trust Him completely. This is the example of Abraham that he trusted the promises that God had given him and in faith followed His commands. (Romans 4:3) We can to because of Christ’s death on the cross. (Romans 4:23-25)
Verse 10 Is There Any Advantage to be Young and Strong?
The young may have strength but both their youth and strength fade in time. Any advantage the young have they will soon lose. In the end, as everyone else, they will be judged by God.
As the young grow older pain and anxious thoughts grow stronger. Solomon tells his readers not to think of these things. Even in the youngest and strongest time of lives we are still weak, as we are but people. The most important thing in life is to decide if we are to serve God or not.
For Solomon that was a clear decision. He had studied how weak man is and he knew how great God is. The only conclusion for Solomon was to serve God. The young should not waste their energy in making the wrong decision to follow their own desires. The older person should not think about his pain and anxious thoughts. People think too much of themselves and not enough about God.
The purpose of God is to have a close relationship with His people. His desire is to adopt people as His sons and daughters. (John 1:12-13) God wants to fill the hearts and minds of His people with sincere love, both for Him and for other people. (Mark 12:29-31)