Ecclesiastes 11 (1)
Pray Psalm 139.1-3.
O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
Read Ecclesiastes 11.1, 2.
1. What do these two proverbs have in common?
2. What do we learn about wisdom from them?
Solomon continues his attempt to focus his son’s outlook beyond the present – beyond the “under the sun” vanity and folly toward which he was inclined – and to encourage him to think about the consequences of behavior, and to prepare for the long haul in life.
These two proverbs are perhaps best understood as counseling wisdom for the present, even if that means sacrifice. Rehoboam seems bent on a life of consumption and self-indulgence. But he can’t know the future, and so he should take the counsel of wisdom and lay a little up in various places for unforeseeable contingencies.
Once again, by appealing to common sense, Solomon is looking for a thin entering wedge for wisdom to supplant folly in Rehoboam’s worldview.
Americans have accumulated more debt than any people in history. We are not only squandering our present; we are squandering our future, and the future of our children as well. The wise person will not live beyond his means, or even up to his means; rather, he will spread his assets in various directions, forgoing consumption in the present to guard against times of want in the days to come.
This is good advice spiritually as well. Christianity focuses on far horizons and calls its adherents to lay aside the pleasures of the moment, put to death the lusts of the flesh, and bring holiness to completion, across the board in life, in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7.1). For this is the end of our journey; we should be preparing for it every day.
1. In what sense is the Christian faith a “forward-looking” way of life? To what do Christians look forward?
2. Verse 2 seems to counsel generosity in giving. Why should we be generous in giving and sharing?
3. All the promises of God are “Yes” and “Amen” in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 1.20). How should this affect the way we live each day?
It happens with most people that they give indeed, but they do not do so freely and readily, which is a greater and more perfect thing than the mere act of offering itself. It is far better to be generous to the unworthy for the sake of the worthy than to deprive the worthy out of fear of the unworthy. This seems to have a bearing on our duty of casting bread upon the waters, not that it may be swept away or perish in the eyes of the just examiner, but that it may come to that place where all our goods will be stored up. And [it will] be there to meet us in due time, even though we may think otherwise. Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389), On the Death of His Father, Oration 18.20
Lord, give me a wise, prudent, and generous heart today as I…
Pray Psalm 139.23, 24.
Listen for the Spirit to search your soul. Repent of any sins, then seek His guidance for the day ahead.
Sing Psalm 139.23, 24.
Psalm 139.23, 24 (Ripley: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul)
Search my heart, O Lord, and know me,
as You only, Lord, can do.
Test my thoughts and contemplations,
whether they be vain or true.
Let there be no sin in me, Lord,
nothing that Your Spirit grieves.
Lead me in the righteous way, Lord,
unto everlasting peace!
T. M. Moore
Where does the book of Ecclesiastes fit in the overall flow of Scripture? Our series of studies, God’s Covenant, can show you, and help you discover the great beauty of the unity and diversity of Scripture, and how it all points to Christ. To order your copy of this important workbook, click here.
You can download all the studies in this series on Ecclesiastes by clicking here. If you value Scriptorium as a free resource for your walk with the Lord, please consider supporting our work with your gifts and offerings. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).