Scripture Queries and Answers: Ecclesiastes 4

Ecclesiastes 4  •  1 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Q. What is the meaning of the closing verses in Eccl. 4? More particularly, who, or what, is “the second child that shall stand up in his stead?” The R.V. does not seem clearer than the A.V.
J.D.
A. From the sorrow and trial of isolation in this world, the royal preacher turns to the wretchedness of despising counsel, on the one hand, and to the vanity of reckoning on the stable loyalty of the multitude on the other: men worship the rising sun. The R.V. is more forcible here. “Better is a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who knoweth not how to receive admonition any more. For out of prison he came forth to be king; yea, even in his kingdom he was born poor.” Such an one who from such a low origin came to the greatest height of earthly dignity ought of all men to take heed when old, and to watch against self-will so natural in his circumstances. “I saw all the living which walk under the sun that they were with the youth, the second that stood up in his stead. There was no end of all the people, even of all them over whom he was; yet they that come after shall not rejoice in him.” The youth, “the second,” is so in relation to the old king become unpopular (not the second of two youths). The first was the father who was raised to the throne; the second, his son that followed. Men grow weary of each in turn. Surely this also is vanity and a feeding on wind (or striving after it).