Ecclesiastes 11:3
If the clouds are full, they will pour out rain upon the earth; whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there it will lie.
Black Clouds and Bright BlessingsEcclesiastes 11:3
Incentives to Christian WorkW. Clarkson Ecclesiastes 11:1-4, 6
Provision for the FutureJ. Willcock Ecclesiastes 11:1-6

There can be little doubt that these admonitions apply to the deeds of compassion and beneficence which are the proper fruits of true religion. Especially in some conditions of society almsgiving is expedient and beneficial. In times of famine, in cases of affliction and sudden calamity, it is a duty to supply the need of the poor and hungry. At the same time, the indiscriminate bestowal of what is called charity unquestionably does more harm than good, especially in a state of society in which few need suffer want who are diligent, frugal, temperate, and self-denying. But there are many other ways in which benevolence may express itself beside almsgiving. The Christian is called upon to care both for the bodies and for the souls of his fellow-men - to give the bread of knowledge as well as the bread that perisheth, and to provide a spiritual portion for the enrichment and consolation of the destitute.

I. THE NATURAL EMOTION OF BENEVOLENCE IS RECOGNIZED AND HALLOWED BY TRUE RELIGION. It may be maintained with confidence that sympathy is as natural to man as selfishness, although the love of self is too often allowed by our sinful nature to overcome the love of others. But when Christ takes possession, by his Spirit, of a man's inner nature, then the benevolence which may have been dormant is aroused, and new direction is given to it, and new power to persevere and to succeed in the attainment of its object.

II. RELIGION PROMPTS TO A PRACTICAL EXPRESSION OF BENEVOLENT FEELING. Too often sympathy is a sentimental luxury, leading to no effort, no self-denial. The poet justly denounces those who, "Nursed in mealy-mouthed philanthropies, Divorce the feeling from her mate - the deed." But the spirit of the Savior urges to Christ-like endeavor, and sustains the worker for men's bodily, social, and spiritual good. The bread must be cast, the portion must be given.

III. BENEVOLENCE MEETS IN ITS EXERCISE WITH MANY DISCOURAGEMENTS. The bread is cast upon the waters. This implies that in many cases we must expect to lose sight of the results of our work; that we must he prepared for disappointment; that, at all events, we must fulfill our service for God and man in faith, and rather from conviction and principle than from any hope of apparent and immediate success.

IV. A PROMISE IS GIVEN WHICH IS INTENDED TO URGE TO PERSEVERANCE. What is, as it were, committed to the deep shall be found after the lapse of days. The waters do not destroy, they fertilize and fructify, the seed. Thus "they who sow in tears shall reap in joy." In how many ways this promise is fulfilled the history of the Christian Church, and even the experience of every individual worker for God, abundantly show. In places and at times altogether unexpected and unlikely, there come to light evidences that the work has been cared for, watched over, and prospered by God himself. He does not suffer the efforts of his faithful servants to come to naught. The good they aim at, and much which never occurred to them to anticipate, is effected in God's time by the marvelous operation of his providence and his Spirit. "Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." - T.

If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth.
It was raining very heavily when I was thinking over this text. When I came here I found that you had not had a drop of ram. This seemed to me like an example and an illustration of the sovereignty of God's dispensations. In one part of the Church God's grace descends in a flood, while another part remains as dry and arid as the wilderness itself. He hath the key of the rain, and it is for us to ask Him to give us of the dew and the rain of His Holy Spirit.

I. COMFORT FOR THE TIMID. The clouds are black, they lower; they shut out the sunlight; they obscure the landscape. The timid one looks up and says, "Alas! how black they are, and how they gather, fold on fold!" What makes them black? It is because they are full, and hence light cannot pierce them. And if they be full, what then? Why, then it will rain, and then the hot earth will be refreshed, and every little plant, and every tiny leaf and rootlet of that plant will suck up moisture, and begin to laugh for joy. If the clouds were not black, you might not expect rain. If your afflictions were not grievous, they would not be profitable. If your adversities did not pain and trouble you, they would not be blessed to you. We have heard some people say, "If this trouble had come in such and such a shape, I would not have minded it." But God meant you to mind it, for it was in your minding it that it was blessed to you. I do not know — how can I tell — what is your particular trouble; but you may well believe that He who appointed it, He who measured it, He who has set its bounds, will bring you to the end of it, and prove His gracious design in it all. Do not think that God deals roughly with His children, and gives them needless pain. It grieves Him to grieve you. It is easy to have a faith that acts backwards, but faith that will act forwards from the point of your present emergency is the true faith that you want now. Hath God helped you out of one trouble after another, and is it to be supposed that He will leave you in this? Do ask, then, for grace that you may believe while you are still under the cloud, black as it looks, that it will empty itself in blessed rain upon you. So will it be on the largest possible scale in the whole Church of Christ. There are many clouds surrounding the Church of God just now, and I must confess that, with all the religious activity there is abroad, there is very much to cause us great sorrow. But we must not yield to fear. The Master knows.

II. AN ARGUMENT WITH THE DOUBTING AND THE DESPONDING. It is a law of nature that a full thing begins to empty itself. When the cloud gets full, it no longer has the power of retaining its fluid contents, but it pours them down upon the earth. Well now, I want you to draw an argument from this. Our gracious God never makes a store of any good thing, but He intends to give it to us. Just think for a moment of God, our gracious Father. He is love. He is all goodness. He is a bottomless, shoreless sea, brimful of goodness He is full of pardoning goodness to forgive sin. He is full of faithful goodness to watch over His children; full of bounteous goodness to bestow upon them all that they want. Now, if there be such a plenitude of goodness in the leather, it must be for some object — not for Himself. Why should it be given to Himself? It must be there for His creatures. Is it not written that He delighteth in mercy? We know that He maketh the sun to shine upon the evil as well as upon the just. Then I, even though I be evil, will hope that this store of goodness in the heart of the everlasting Father is intended — some of it, at any rate — to be poured out upon me, poor unworthy me. Ah, troubled, doubting soul! think again; let me ask you this time to muse a little upon Jesus Christ the Son of the Father. Now, if thou believe Christ to be a cloud that is full of rain, for what reason is He full? Why, that He may empty Himself upon the earth. To proceed yet further, I would ask the doubter to look at the infinite fulness of power which is treasured up in the Holy Spirit. Is thy heart hard? He will empty His softening influence upon it. Is it dead? His quickening power shall there find a congenial sphere. Art thou dark? Then there is room for His light. Art thou sick? Then is there a province for His healing energy.

III. THE TEXT FURNISHES A LESSON TO CHRISTIANS. The drift of the passage is, of course, to be gathered from the connection, and it was intended by Solomon to teach us liberality. "If your pocket is full, empty it out upon the poor and needy; and if God has endowed you with much of this world's substance, look out for cases of necessity, and consider it as much the object of your existence to bestow help upon the needy, as it is the design in the creation of a cloud that it should empty itself upon the earth." When a man once gets into the habit of giving to the cause of God, it becomes as much a delight to contribute of his substance as to pray for God's bounty, or to drink in the promise. Let the wealthy empty themselves upon the earth, and this shall be the way to fill themselves. But, though not many of us are entrusted with much wealth, we have other aptitudes to be useful. Some Christians have a considerable amount of ability to serve the Lord. They are, perhaps, able to speak for the Master. Now, I think that wherever there is some knowledge of God's Word, a personal acquaintance with its power, and a facility to speak, we should exercise our talent, if it be but one; and if we have ten, we should not keep one of the ten to ourselves. Some Christians have a large amount of experimental knowledge. They are not eloquent, they are not educated, but they are wise. If you have any experience, let me say to you — do, as you have opportunity, tell it out; empty it upon the earth. If you have gained some knowledge of God, communicate it. If you have proved Him, confess to a generation about you that He is a faithful God. Observe, lastly, when it is that the clouds do empty themselves. The text says, when they are full. This is a broad hint, I think, to the Christian; it tells him when to work. David was to attack the Philistines at a certain signal. "When thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry-trees, then thou shalt bestir thyself." Take this as a Divine signal; when you are full, it is time for you to set about doing good, emptying yourselves upon the earth.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Clouds, Empty, Fall, Falleth, Falls, Full, Lie, Lies, North, Pour, Rain, South, Themselves, Thick, Towards, Tree, Whatever, Wherever, Whether
1. directions for charity
7. death in life and the day of judgment
9. in the days of youth

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Ecclesiastes 11:3

     4293   water
     4842   north
     4844   rain

Ecclesiastes 11:3-4

     4805   clouds

Ecclesiastes 11:3-5

     4854   weather, God's sovereignty

A New Years Sermon to the Young
'Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.... Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.'--ECCLES. xi. 9; xii. 1. This strange, and in some places perplexing Book of Ecclesiastes, is intended to
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Sowing in the Wind, Reaping under Clouds
"He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap."--Ecclesiastes 11:4. SOW when the time comes, whatever wind blows. Reap when the times comes, whatever clouds are in the sky. There are, however, qualifying proverbs, which must influence our actions. We are not to discard prudence in the choice of the time for our work. "To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven." It is well to sow when the weather is propitious. It is wise
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 38: 1892

Of Confession and Self-Examination
Of Confession and Self-examination Self-examination should always precede Confession, and in the nature and manner of it should be conformable to the state of the soul: the business of those that are advanced to the degree of which we now treat, is to lay their whole souls open before God, who will not fail to enlighten them, and enable them to see the peculiar nature of their faults. This examination, however, should be peaceful and tranquil, and we should depend on God for the discovery and knowledge
Madame Guyon—A Short and Easy Method of Prayer

Curiosity a Temptation to Sin.
"Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away."--Proverbs iv. 14, 15. The chief cause of the wickedness which is every where seen in the world, and in which, alas! each of us has more or less his share, is our curiosity to have some fellowship with darkness, some experience of sin, to know what the pleasures of sin are like. I believe it is even thought unmanly by many persons (though they may not like to say
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VIII

1872-1874. Letter from Rev. A. M. W. Christopher --Letter from Gulf of St. Lawrence-Mrs. Birt's Sheltering Home, Liverpool --Letter to Mrs. Merry --Letter from Canada --Miss
Letter from Rev. A. M. W. Christopher--Letter from Gulf of St. Lawrence-Mrs. Birt's Sheltering Home, Liverpool--Letter to Mrs. Merry--Letter from Canada--Miss Macpherson's return to England-- Letter of cheer for Dr. Barnardo--Removal to Hackney Home. Though human praise is not sought, we cannot but feel peculiar pleasure in giving the following testimony from a servant of the Lord so much revered as the Rev, A. M. W. Christopher of Oxford:-- "Of all the works of Christian benevolence which the great
Clara M. S. Lowe—God's Answers

How the Slothful and the Hasty are to be Admonished.
(Admonition 16.) Differently to be admonished are the slothful and the hasty. For the former are to be persuaded not to lose, by putting it off, the good they have to do; but the latter are to be admonished lest, while they forestall the time of good deeds by inconsiderate haste, they change their meritorious character. To the slothful therefore it is to be intimated, that often, when we will not do at the right time what we can, before long, when we will, we cannot. For the very indolence of
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great

Jesus Attends the First Passover of his Ministry.
(Jerusalem, April 9, a.d. 27.) Subdivision A. Jesus Cleanses the Temple. ^D John II. 13-25. ^d 13 And the passover of the Jews was at hand [We get our information as to the length of our Lord's ministry from John's Gospel. He groups his narrative around six Jewish festivals: 1, He here mentions the first passover; 2, another feast, which we take to have been also a passover (v. 1); 3, another passover (vi. 4); 4, the feast of tabernacles (vii. 2); 5, dedication (x. 22); 6, passover (xi. 55). This
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

How those are to be Admonished who Decline the Office of Preaching Out of Too Great Humility, and those who Seize on it with Precipitate Haste.
(Admonition 26.) Differently to be admonished are those who, though able to preach worthily, are afraid by reason of excessive humility, and those whom imperfection or age forbids to preach, and yet precipitancy impells. For those who, though able to preach with profit, still shrink back through excessive humility are to be admonished to gather from consideration of a lesser matter how faulty they are in a greater one. For, if they were to hide from their indigent neighbours money which they possessed
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great

Jeremiah, a Lesson for the Disappointed.
"Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord."--Jeremiah i. 8. The Prophets were ever ungratefully treated by the Israelites, they were resisted, their warnings neglected, their good services forgotten. But there was this difference between the earlier and the later Prophets; the earlier lived and died in honour among their people,--in outward honour; though hated and thwarted by the wicked, they were exalted to high places, and ruled in the congregation.
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VIII

The Wrath of God
What does every sin deserve? God's wrath and curse, both in this life, and in that which is to come. Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.' Matt 25: 41. Man having sinned, is like a favourite turned out of the king's favour, and deserves the wrath and curse of God. He deserves God's curse. Gal 3: 10. As when Christ cursed the fig-tree, it withered; so, when God curses any, he withers in his soul. Matt 21: 19. God's curse blasts wherever it comes. He deserves also God's wrath, which is
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

It is not surprising that the book of Ecclesiastes had a struggle to maintain its place in the canon, and it was probably only its reputed Solomonic authorship and the last two verses of the book that permanently secured its position at the synod of Jamnia in 90 A.D. The Jewish scholars of the first century A.D. were struck by the manner in which it contradicted itself: e.g., "I praised the dead more than the living," iv. 2, "A living dog is better than a dead lion," ix. 4; but they were still more
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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