Ecclesiastes Encourages this Blog

August 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

Not that I needed scriptural encouragement.  But I received it.   And it’s always nice when an unexpected gift like this occurs:  When I googled the words for the blog title I was considering, up popped a reference to Ecclesiastes.  So I looked up the relevant verses in two commentaries.  One of them provided the perfect tag line to the title.   And both commentaries interpreted the collected wisdom sayings to mean that since one cannot predict the future (or even the weather), one should get on with projects without distracting oneself with worries or concerns about how things might turn out.  It’s an instructive bit of wise advice.  And I put it immediately into practice.

Here are two modern translations for the verses in question (Ecclesiastes 11:1-6):

11:1  Set your bread afloat upon the water, for after many days you will find it again.

11:2  Divide your capital seven or even eight ways, because you do not perceive what evil will occur in the land.

11:3  If the clouds swell with rain, they will pour it out on the land;  if a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, that is where it will be.

11:4  One who gapes at the blowing wind will not sow; one who stands observing the clouds will not reap.

11:5  Just as you cannot perceive the blowing air anymore than the development of a child in a pregnant womb, so can you not perceive the action of God, who enacts everything.

11:6  In the morning begin to plant, and also toward evening do not let your hand rest, since you cannot perceive which will succeed, the one or the other.  Or maybe both together will have a happy outcome.     [Norbert Lohfink, 1980/2003]

(1)  Send forth your bread upon the waters, for in the course of time you will find it.

(2) Give a portion to seven people, even eight, for you do not know what misfortune will occur on earth.

(3)  If the clouds fill up they will empty out rain on the earth.  If a tree should fall, whether in the south or in the north, wherever the tree may fall, there it will be.

(4)  He who watches the wind will not sow, and he who looks at the clouds will not reap.

(5)  Just as you cannot understand what the life breath does in the womb of a pregnant woman, so you cannot understand the work of God, who makes everything happen.

(6)  In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening let not your hand go slack, for your do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both will be equally good.      [Michael V. Fox, 1999]


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