Solomon was one of the most materially successful leaders of all time. Granted, he had a great jump start–very privileged–in that both his earthly father and his heavenly father gave him lots of resources to get him going…stock piles of raw building materials, peaceful borders, and godly wisdom to name three.
His Proverbs are full of good ideas (how to run one’s life) and his Ecclesiastics are full of deep reflections (looking back on life). While the later is tinged with some cynicism and regrets, it still shows a desire to teach others how to live well.
One passage, Eccl 11, especially tells us to think about the moral and practical aspects of investing.
“Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days. 2 Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth. If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies. 4 He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap. 5 Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things. 6 Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.”
The NIV makes vs 2 especially pop out a little more:
“Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.”
There is some mixed interpretation. It could be to share your food with 7-8 people, or it good be to invest in 7-8 projects.
Actually, both take courage, planning and INVESTING.
Investing is basically supporting something hoping for returns. Its hard to let go of sees, resources, and money to invest in people or ventures. But it is what makes life rich.
We can invest with people or with projects. People can grow to help others and projects can grow to give solutions (and employment) to millions.
The point is to try to think about places and people to invest in. Are you doing that?
What are you investing in? How are you investing? When are you investing? Why are you investing?
There are a lot of cool websites that try to wrestle with the meaning of this passage and you can search them. Bible Hub is always a good place to start exploring “ancient meanings” One interesting place discusses the “cast your bread” symbolism, which some believe was the process of going out on shallow delta flooding times and sowing seed, hoping that when the waters went down, the seed would hit the ground at the perfect time to later sprout…
Of course it was risky…..that is the whole challenge of investing.
Solomon seems to be inviting us to invest in people and/or venture capital work.
In reality both come together in that people create projects and ventures employ people.
I was comparing Solomon’s last speech (Ecclesiastics) to Jesus (the one greater then Solomon) last speech (John 14-17) and what caught me was how much wiser Jesus was in looking at investment as really a call to unity, togetherness, community. He was investing in his church. Solomon had some concern with people, no doubt, but his material focus comes stronger through than in Jesus more “righteousness” (relational) investment, his vision of the future and the big sacrifice he was about to make for his “church.”
In another passage Jesus is more direct:
“I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”
I like stuff. I collect stuff. One of my challenges is to start using all that stuff to bless others…invest in their futures, and in the process invest in mine!!!!
I believe one of the people I support will become like Solomon….I just don’t know which one.
So I better invest widely as a process of investing wisely.
I think that was the point of chapter 11.