Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.
Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.
I found two interpretations of verse one that have the same general principle. First, in Solomon’s day, if you invested money in shipping commodities from one place to another (casting your bread upon the waters) it could be a long time before you reaped the reward of your investment. Usually, though, there was a return on the investment.
Second, if you give generously to those in need, you may not see an immediate result of your gift. Again, you are “casting you bread upon the waters: (is this why a slang word for money these days is bread?) hoping that both you and the receiver of the gift will see a rewarding result from your investment.
Louisa May Alcott paraphrased the verse this way: “Cast your bread upon the waters, and someday it will return to you buttered.”
Either interpretation or application of this verse requires faith, and, one would hope, a careful scrutiny of the person or commodity in which one is investing. Many a scam artist has robbed people of their wealth because those people trusted too quickly and easily. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Verse 2 is simply an admonishment to generosity, an investment toward the future, because we simply do not know what evil, misfortune, or dire circumstance may be in our future. It is better to provide ahead of time, when we can, for the possible need of the future.