The Abingdon Bible Commentary refers to Ecclesiastes 11:1 as “an enigmatical word of counsel, teaching benevolence.” Matthew Henry and others also echo this sentiment. The added advice of verse 2 confirms this interpretation – “Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.” The Message translation provides a great insight: “Don’t hoard your goods; spread them around. Be a blessing to others. This could be your last night.” In this passage, Solomon presses rich people to give liberally to those less fortunate.
Several Biblical principles emerge as we consider the wisdom in these verses. First, whatever we cast upon the water is what we receive in return: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days .” The principle here occurs often in Scripture and is illustrated in Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” What we cast upon the water is what we will receive in return. If we cast trash, then trash we will receive. If we cast selfishness, then we will receive the same back from others. However, if we cast bread, then bread we shall receive.
What does God expect of those of us who have been blessed with much bread in this life? Isaiah 58:7 provides an answer: “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring into your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?”
Secondly, the reward of this Biblical principle may not be seen immediately. The verse advises that the return comes ‘after many days’. Once again let me refer to Galatians 6. This time note verses 9 & 10: “And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” The NCT translates Eccelsiastes 11:1 this way: “Invest what you have because after a while you will get a return.”
Another benefit of following Solomon’s advice is that more comes back than is initially cast. What a beautiful picture of this benefit may found in Isaiah 58:10-11: “If you extend your soul to the hungry, And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a well watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.”
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Again in John 6:48, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” Followers of the Lord Jesus Christ need to be casting two kinds of bread upon the water: the first obligation is to share our faith in Jesus, The Bread of Life, with others; we are also admonished to share the physical bread with which we have been blessed among those who hunger.
~ Brother Roy