Ignorance of the Future Demands Diligence in the Present

Stafford Wright summarises the point of this chapter.  ‘If you are a merchant or a farmer, it is no use waiting for infallible guidance so that you can invest all your possessions in one venture, or plant all your seed with the prospect of 100 per cent success. You must use your common sense, and make such provision as you can to meet the unknown quantities in life. If you are a merchant, distribute your ventures over seven or eight schemes. If you are a farmer, sow your seed at different times so as to make sure of one crop, if not of more than one.’

11:1 Send your grain overseas,
for after many days you will get a return.

NIV: ‘Cast your bread upon the waters’ (which, as Wilsom remarks, is not about feeding the ducks!)

11:2 Divide your merchandise among seven or even eight investments,
for you do not know what calamity may happen on earth.
11:3 If the clouds are full of rain, they will empty themselves on the earth,
and whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, the tree will lie wherever it falls.
11:4 He who watches the wind will not sow,
and he who observes the clouds will not reap.
11:5 Just as you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the bones form in the womb of a pregnant woman,
so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.
11:6 Sow your seed in the morning,
and do not stop working until the evening;
for you do not know which activity will succeed—
whether this one or that one, or whether both will prosper equally.

Life Should Be Enjoyed Because Death is Inevitable

11:7 Light is sweet,
and it is pleasant for a person to see the sun.
11:8 So, if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all,
but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many—all that is about to come is obscure.

Enjoy Life to the Fullest under the Fear of God

11:9 Rejoice, young man, while you are young,
and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth.
Follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes,
but know that God will judge your motives and actions.
11:10 Banish emotional stress from your mind.
and put away pain from your body;
for youth and the prime of life are fleeting.