|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:1-6 Solomon presses the rich to do good to others. Give freely, though it may seem thrown away and lost. Give to many. Excuse not thyself with the good thou hast done, from the good thou hast further to do. It is not lost, but well laid out. We have reason to expect evil, for we are born to trouble; it is wisdom to do good in the day of prosperity. Riches cannot profit us, if we do not benefit others. Every man must labour to be a blessing to that place where the providence of God casts him. Wherever we are, we may find good work to do, if we have but hearts to do it. If we magnify every little difficulty, start objections, and fancy hardships, we shall never go on, much less go through with our work. Winds and clouds of tribulation are, in God's hands, designed to try us. God's work shall agree with his word, whether we see it or not. And we may well trust God to provide for us, without our anxious, disquieting cares. Be not weary in well-doing, for in due season, in God's time, you shall reap, Ga 6:9.
Verse 6. - In the morning sow thy seed. Do not let your ignorance of the future and the inscrutability of God's dealings lead you to indolence and apathy; do your appointed work; be active and diligent in your calling. The labor of the farmer is taken as a type of business generally, and was especially appropriate to the class of persons whom Koheleth is instructing. The injunction occurs naturally after ver. 4. And in the evening withhold not thine hand. Labor on untiredly from morn till evening. It is not an advice to rest during midday, as that was too hot a time to work (Stuart), but a call to spend the entire day in active employment, the two extremities being mentioned in order to include the whole. Work undertaken in a right spirit is a blessing, not a curse, shuts out many temptations, encourages many virtues. Some see here a special reference to the maxim at the beginning of the chapter, as though the author meant, "Exercise thy charity at all times, early and late," the metaphor being similar 'to that in 2 Corinthians 9:6, "He which soweth sparingly," etc. Others find a figure of the ages of, man in the "morning and evening," thus, "From earliest youth practice piety and purity, and continue such conduct to its close." This leads naturally to the subject of the following section; but it may be doubted whether this thought was in the author's mind. It seems best to take the paragraph merely as commending activity, whether in business or in benevolence, without anxious regard to results which are in higher hands. "Withhold not thy hand," i.e. from sowing; Μὴ ἀφέτω ἡ χείρ σου (Septuagint). For thou knowest not whether shall prosper, which of the two sewings, either this or that, the morning or evening sowing. It is a chance, and a man must risk something; if one fails, the other may succeed. Or whether they both shall be alike good. The uncertainty rouses to exertion; labor may at any rate secure half the crop, or even give a double produce, if both sewings succeed. So in religion and morality, the good seed sown early and late may bear fruit early or late, or may have blessed results all along. The Vulgate is less correct, Et si utrumque simul, melius or, "And if both together, it will be better."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
In the morning sow thy seed,.... Do all good works early and diligently, which is expressed by sowing in righteousness, Hosea 10:12; particularly alms deeds, often signified by sowing seed, Psalm 112:9, 2 Corinthians 9:6; this should be in the morning of youth, that persons may be inured to it betimes as Obadiah was; and in the morning of prosperity, as soon as ever Providence smiles on men, and puts it into the power of their hands, who should honour the Lord with the firstfruits of their increase;
and in the evening withhold not thine hand; from sowing seed, from doing good, particularly acts of charity, in the evening of old age, as Jarchi, like old Barzillai; an age in which men are apt to be more tenacious and covetous, and withhold more than is meet; yea, in the evening of adversity do not leave off doing good as much as can be; but do as the Macedonian churches, whose deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality in a great trial of affliction, 2 Corinthians 8:2; in short, good is to be done at all times, as opportunity offers, throughout the whole of life, and in all conditions and circumstances;
for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that; the seed sown in the morning or in the evening, which good work shall best succeed; therefore do both, try all ways, make use of all opportunities;
or whether they both shall be alike good; acceptable to God, and useful to men; and if so, a man will have no occasion to repent of what he has done both in youth and old age.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. morning … evening—early and late; when young and when old; in sunshine and under clouds.
seed—of godly works (Ho 10:12; 2Co 9:10; Ga 6:7).
prosper—(Isa 55:10, 11).
both … alike—Both the unpromising and the promising sowing may bear good fruit in others; certainly they shall to the faithful sower.
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