Ecclesiastes 11:4
He that observes the wind shall not sow; and he that regards the clouds shall not reap.
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(4) But it is idle to try to guard against all possibilities of failure. To demand a certainty of success before acting would mean not to act at all.

Ecclesiastes 11:4. He that observeth the wind, shall not sow, &c. — He who neglects the necessary works of sowing and reaping, because the weather is not exactly suitable to his desires, will lose his harvest. Whereby he intimates, that men will never do good here, which is expressed by sowing, and consequently not receive good hereafter, which is called reaping, if they be discouraged from it by every doubt and difficulty.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."Unforeseen events come from God; and the man who is always gazing on the uncertain future will neither begin nor complete any useful work: but do thou bear in mind that times and circumstances, the powers of nature and the results to which they minister, are in the hand of God; and be both diligent and trustful." The images are connected chiefly with the occupation of an agricultural laborer: the discharge of rain from the cloud, and the inclination of the falling tree, and the direction of the wind, are beyond his control, though the result of his work is affected by them. The common application of the image of the fallen tree to the state of departed souls was probably not in the mind of the inspired writer.4. Therefore sow thy charity in faith, without hesitancy or speculation as to results, because they may not seem promising (Ec 9:10). So in Ec 11:1, man is told to "cast his bread corn" on the seemingly unpromising "waters" (Ps 126:5, 6). The farmer would get on badly, who, instead of sowing and reaping, spent his time in watching the wind and clouds. He who neglects or delays the necessary works of sowing and reaping, because the weather is not exactly suitable to his desires, may possibly lose his harvest; whereby he intimates what is easily understood out of the foregoing verses, that men will never do good here, which is expressed by sowing, Psalm 112:9 2 Corinthians 9:6, and consequently not receive good hereafter, Which is called reaping, Galatians 6:7,8, if they be discouraged and hindered from it by every doubt or difficulty, such as covetous worldlings object to themselves, that others either do not want their charity, or with abuse it, that they may possibly need it hereafter. He that observeth the wind shall not sow,.... Who before he sows his seed is careful to observe where the wind is, from what corner it blows, and forbears sowing until it is down or changes, lest it should be troublesome unto him in sowing, or blow away his seed, and waits for a better season; such a man may lose his seedtime and never sow at all, and his grain in his barn may be devoured by vermin, or be destroyed by one accident or another, and so he may lose both his seed and his crop;

and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap; which are uncertain signs of weather; and if a man gives heed to them, and puts off his sowing from time to time, for the sake of better weather, as he may never sow, so it is impossible that he should reap; and if he sows, and when his grain is ripe and forbears to reap because of the clouds, lest his grain should be wet, may never reap at all: and so it is with respect to liberality; if a man will raise difficulties, and make objections, and attend unto them; if he puts off giving till such an affliction is removed from him and his family, or that is grown up; or such an estate is obtained, or he has got to such an amount of riches, or till more proper and deserving objects present, with twenty things more of the like kind; if he defers giving on such accounts, or through fear of want, which may possess his mind for various reasons, he may never give nor get, yea, never do any good work; for, if nothing is done till all difficulties are removed, no good thing will ever be done.

He that observeth the {d} wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.

(d) He who fears inconveniences when need requires will never do his duty.

4. He that observeth the wind shall not sow] This is, as has been said above, the answer to the question suggested in Ecclesiastes 11:3. Our ignorance of the future is not to put a stop to action. If we allowed that “taking thought for the morrow” (Matthew 6:25) to hinder us from doing good, we should be as the husbandman who is always observing the clouds and lets the time of sowing pass by; who when harvest comes, watches the wind as it blows round him, till “the harvest is past, and the summer ended” (Jeremiah 8:20) and he can no longer reap. The very watching for opportunities may end in missing them. There are times when it is our wisdom to “be instant out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2).Verse 4. - He that observeth the wind shall not sow. The fact of the uncertainty and immutability of the future ought not to make us supine or to crush out all diligence and activity. He who wants to anticipate results, to foresee and provide against all contingencies, to be his own providence, is like a farmer who is always looking to wind and weather, and misses the time for sowing in this needless caution. The quarter from which the wind blows regulates the downfall of rain (comp. Proverbs 25:23). In Palestine the west and north-west winds usually brought rain. He that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. For the purpose of softening the ground to receive the seed, rain was advantageous; but storms in harvest, of course, were pernicious (see 1 Samuel 12:17, etc.; Proverbs 26:1); and he who was anxiously fearing every indication of such weather, and altering his plans at every phase of the sky, might easily put off reaping his fields till either the crops were spoiled or the rainy season had set in. A familiar proverb says," A watched pot never boils." Some risks must always be run if we are to do our work in the world; we cannot make a certainty of anything; probability in the guide of life. We cannot secure ourselves from failure; we can but do our best, and uncertainty of result must not paralyze exertion. "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy" (Romans 9:16). St. Gregory deduces a lesson from this verse: "He calls the unclean spirit wind, but men who are subjected to him clouds; whom he impels backwards and forwards, hither and thither, as often as his temptations alternate in their hearts from the blasts of suggestions. He therefore who observes the wind does not sow, since he who dreads coming temptations does not direct his heart to doing good. And he who regards the clouds does not reap, since he who trembles from the dread of human fickleness deprives himself of the recompense of an eternal reward" ('Moral.,' 27:14). Since, now, Ecclesiastes 10:19 has only to do with princes, the following proverb of the consequences of sloth receives a particular reference in the frame of this mirror for princes: "Through being idle the roof falleth; and through laziness of the hands the house leaketh." Ewald, Redslob, Olsh., Hitz., and Frst, as already Aben Ezra, understand the dual עצל of the two idle hands, but a similar attribut. adject.-dual is not found in Heb.; on the contrary, ephraim, merathaim Jeremiah 50:21, rish'athaim, and, in a certain measure, also riqmathaim, speak in favour of the intensification of the dual; 'atsaltaim is related to 'atslah, as Faulenzen being idle, living in idleness to Faulheit laziness, it means doubled, i.e., great, constant laziness (Gesen. H. Wrt., and Bttch. in the N. Aehrenl., under this passage). If 'atsaltaim were an attribut. designation of the hands, then shiphluth hadaim would be lowness, i.e., the hanging down of the hands languidly by the side; the former would agree better with the second than with the first passage. Regarding the difference between hammeqareh (the beams and joists of a house) and hamqareh (contignans), vid., note below.

(Note: המּקרה, with mem Dageshed (Masora: לית דגש); in Psalm 104:3, on the contrary, the mem has Raphe, for there it is particip. (Michlol 46a; Parchon's Lex. f. 3, Colossians 1).)

Since exceeding laziness leaves alone everything that could support the house, the beams fall (ימּך, Niph. מכך), and the house drops, i.e., lets the rain through (ידלף, with o, in spite of the intrans. signification); cf. the Arab. proverb of the three things which make a house insufferable, under Proverbs 19:13. Also the community, whom the king and the nobles represent, is a בּית, as e.g., Israel is called the house of Jacob. If the rulers neglect their duty, abusing their high position in obeying their own lusts, then the kingdom (state) becomes as a dilapidated house, affording no longer any protection, and at last a machshelah, a ruined building, Isaiah 3:6. It becomes so by slothfulness, and the prodigal love of pleasure associated therewith.

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