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Ecclesiastes 10:16-17 meaning...

Ecclesiastes is a book in the Old Testament known for its reflections on the meaning of life, the pursuit of wisdom, and observations about human folly. In this passage, the Teacher (often attributed to King Solomon) offers wisdom regarding the leadership of a nation and the behavior of its rulers.

  • Key Points:

Woe to a Child King: The passage begins with a warning or "woe" to the land when its king is a child. In ancient times, a child king could be inexperienced and easily influenced, potentially leading to poor governance.

Princes Eating in the Morning: The verse further criticizes the behavior of the princes or officials in a land where the king is a child. It mentions that they "eat in the morning," which might suggest a lack of discipline and self-control, possibly engaging in excess or indulgence.

Blessing of a Wise King: Conversely, the passage speaks of the happiness of a land when its king is the son of nobles. This implies a king who is well-educated, wise, and capable. It also mentions that the princes eat "in due season, for strength," indicating moderation and wisdom in their actions.

  • Significance:

Leadership Matters: The passage highlights the importance of wise and capable leadership in a nation. A child king or immature ruler can lead to problems, while a wise and noble leader can bring blessings.

Principles of Moderation: The reference to eating "in due season, for strength" underscores the value of moderation and wise decision-making, even in matters of personal indulgence.

Impact on a Nation: The passage suggests that the behavior and character of rulers have a direct impact on the well-being and happiness of a nation's people.

  • Application:

Leadership Selection: It encourages societies to carefully consider the qualifications and character of their leaders, whether in government, business, or other fields. Wisdom and maturity are desirable traits in leadership.

Personal Conduct: The passage encourages individuals to exercise self-control and moderation in their actions, avoiding excess and indulgence.

National Well-being: It underscores the idea that the well-being of a nation is linked to the wisdom and character of its leaders. This encourages civic engagement and responsible leadership.


Proverbs 29:2: "When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan." This verse from Proverbs reinforces the idea that the character of leaders impacts the happiness of a nation.

1 Timothy 3:2-3: "An overseer then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, modest, hospitable, good at teaching; not a drinker, not violent, not greedy for money." These verses in the New Testament provide qualifications for church leaders, emphasizing qualities like temperance and wisdom.

Ecclesiastes 10:16-17 provides wisdom about the impact of leadership on a nation's well-being and the importance of moderation and wisdom in personal conduct. It serves as a reminder of the significance of wise and capable leaders and the influence of their behavior on society.

Ecclesiastes 10:16-17.  Woe to you, land, when your king is a child, and your princes eat in the morning! Happy are you, land, when your king is the son of nobles, and your princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!


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