Ecclesiastes 10:16-17

16 Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!
17 Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!

Ecclesiastes 10:16-17 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO ECCLESIASTES 10

This chapter treats of the difference between wisdom and folly; and of the preferableness of the one, to the other, especially in civil government: folly is compared to a dead or deadly fly; a little of which as much hurts a wise man's reputation, as that does the most precious ointment, Ec 10:1. A wise man and a fool differ in the situation of their heart; which is in the one on the right hand, in the other on the left, Ec 10:2; the folly of the latter lies not only in his heart, but betrays itself throughout the whole of his conversation, Ec 10:3. And it is one part of wisdom in a subject to bear patiently the anger of his prince, and not in a passion and at once leave his service, Ec 10:4. And, among the follies of princes, this is a great one; to bestow their honours and favours on improper persons, to the neglect of such as are deserving, Ec 10:5-7. And several proverbial expressions are used, as cautions to a wise man against plotting mischief to others; breaking in upon the constitution and laws of a commonwealth; weakening the strength of the state by an methods, and making discord in it, and carrying thin by mere strength and force; when, if wisdom used, it would direct to proper ways and means, by which things would be managed to the best advantage, Ec 10:8-10. Then the babbling of fools against a government is exposed, which is like the secret bite of a serpent, Ec 10:11; and the difference between the words of wise men, which express grace and kindness, and are amiable and acceptable to men; and those of fools, which destroy themselves, begin in folly, and end in mischief; are noisy, and without meaning; do not direct to things most plain and easy, but wearisome and fatiguing to themselves and others, Ec 10:12-15. Next the unhappiness of a land is observed, when the governors of it are childish, intemperate, slothful, and prodigal; the happiness of a country when it is the reverse, Ec 10:16-19; and the chapter is concluded with advice not to curse a king, or any great personage; no, not in the most private and secret manner; since, by one means or another, it will be discovered Ec 10:20.

Ecclesiastes 10:16-17 In-Context

14 A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?
15 The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to the city.
16 Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!
17 Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!
18 By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.
19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.