Cast Thy Bread Upon the Waters

Cast Thy Bread Upon the Waters

John Phillips

Mr. John Phillips of Marietta, Ga., shares with us his third of a continuing series of brief, pithy studies in Ecclesiastes.

Ecclesiastes 11:1

When the Nile is in flood, the Egyptian farmer would punt across the inundated land scattering his seed on the surface of the waters. When the flood tides receded the seed settled into the warm sediment and quickly sprang into an abundant harvest. The farmer scattered his bread upon the waters and found it after many days.

Here we have the law of prodigality. “Cast thy bread upon the waters.” On the surface, nothing could be more foolish. The man judging by appearances hesitates to do it, it makes no sense to him. Yet “there is that scattereth and yet increaseth.” “The liberal soul shall be made fat.” “He that soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly.” Many Scriptures urge the law of prodigality. The narrow-visioned man is a tight-fisted man. He gives stingily and grudgingly to the work of God. He invests for eternity with pinched pennies. The logic of giving widely is foreign to him. He knows nothing of the law of prodigality.

Here we have the law of propriety. “Thou shalt find it.” Nothing given to God can be lost. Thou (personally) shalt (positively) find it (precisely). There is a connection between what is sown and what is reaped. Of course, the farmer doesn’t find the exact grains he cast upon the waters. He finds them, not sodden and decayed in the river’s mud, but multiplied, with golden heads upraised, waving in the breeze, a ripened harvest of sun-kissed grain. That’s what he finds. It is the law of propriety. He gives his grain to the waters; he receives it back, multiplied beyond measure.

Here we have the law of patience. “Thou shalt find it after many days.” Sometimes we get tokens of the harvest of that which we give to God, even in this life. But more often we have to wait until that day when the books will be opened. “After many days.” The reward may be slow in coming but it is also sure. “Thou shalt find it after many days” is the pledge and promise of God. And He never breaks faith; He never promises what He cannot perform.

“Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days.”