Ecclesiastes 4:15
I considered all the living which walk under the sun, with the second child that shall stand up in his stead.
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(15) I considered.—Heb., I saw. Most modern interpreters regard the “second child” as identical with the “young man” of Ecclesiastes 4:13, and understand the passage, “I saw him at the head of all his people; yet his great popularity was but temporary, and the next generation took no pleasure in him.” It seems to me that by no stretch of rhetoric can “all the living which walk under the sun” be taken for the subjects of the sovereign in question. I am inclined to think that the Preacher reverts to the general topic, and considered all the living with the “second youth,” i.e., the second generation which shall succeed them. He saw the old generation hardened in its ways, and incapable of being admonished, and then displaced by a new generation, with which the next will feel equal dissatisfaction.

Ecclesiastes 4:15. I considered all the living — The general disposition of common people in all kingdoms, that they are fickle and inconstant, weary of their old governors, and desirous of changes; with the second child that shall stand up — That shall arise to reign. This may be understood of the king’s child, or son and heir, called second in respect to his father, whose successor he is. Some join this clause with the preceding, thus: I considered all the living which walk — Or, that they walk; under the sun — That is, upon earth; with the second child — That is, that they follow, favour, and worship him, as the rising sun, upon which the eyes and hopes of most people are fixed. Probably Solomon observed this disposition in his own people, who were growing weary of his government, and beginning to desire a change, and to turn their eyes to Rehoboam his successor. At least he remembered the rebellion that had been raised against his father David in favour of Absalom, and might have reason to think the same leaven was still working in his kingdom. The verse is thus paraphrased by Bishop Patrick: “Such is the infelicity of princes, that I have seen a king left with nothing but the bare title, and the outward state of royalty; the hearts and affections of all, nobles, gentry, and common people, from one end of the kingdom to the other, inclining to his son (or next heir) that is to succeed him; unto whom they do obeisance, as if he were already upon the throne; but neglect his old father, who sees himself robbed of those honours in which he placed his happiness.”4:13-16 People are never long easy and satisfied; they are fond of changes. This is no new thing. Princes see themselves slighted by those they have studied to oblige; this is vanity and vexation of spirit. But the willing servants of the Lord Jesus, our King, rejoice in him alone, and they will love Him more and more to all eternity.I considered ... - literally, I saw "all the population of the young man's kingdom."

The second child - This second youth is generally understood to be identical with the one mentioned in Ecclesiastes 4:13.

15. "I considered all the living," the present generation, in relation to ("with") the "second youth" (the "legitimate successor" of the "old king," as opposed to the "poor youth," the one first spoken of, about to be raised from poverty to a throne), that is, Rehoboam.

in his stead—the old king's.

I considered all the living; the general disposition or humour of common people in all kingdoms, that they are fickle and inconstant, weary of their old governors, and desirous of changes.

Which walk under the sun: this is a periphrasis, or description of living and mortal men, like that Ecclesiastes 7:11, that see the sun.

With the second child: these words may be joined either,

1. With those which walk, or, that they walk under the sun, (i.e. upon the earth,) with the second child, i.e. follow, and favour, and worship him as the rising sun, upon whom the eyes and hopes of most people are fixed. Or,

2. With the first words,

I considered all the living which walk under the sun, i.e. the temper of all subjects or people, together

with the condition of the second child; which may be understood either,

1. In general, of a king’s child, or son and heir, who is called second, in respect of his father, whose successor he is to be. Or,

2. That wise and poor child mentioned Ecclesiastes 4:13, who is said to come to reign, Ecclesiastes 4:14, and may well be called the second to the old and foolish king who became poor, Ecclesiastes 4:15, being deposed from his kingdom, whom he succeeds, being put in his place either by the humour of the people, or by some higher power.

Stand up, i.e. arise to reign, as that phrase signifies, Daniel 8:22,23 11:2,3,7,20,21. I considered all the living which walk under the sun,.... All men that were then alive, who were capable of walking upon the earth; even all of them that were under the heavens, in every land and nation, under whatsoever dominion or government: these, and their manners, Solomon had particularly observed, and made his remarks upon, by which it appeared how fickle the minds of the populace were under every government, and how precarious and uncertain were the honour and dignity of princes;

with the second child that shall stand up in his stead: the heir and successor or every prince, that shall rise up and take the throne of his father or predecessor, and reign in his stead. The wise man observed how the people commonly behaved towards him; how that they generally stood best affected to him, than to the reigning prince; worshipped the rising sun, courted his favour and friendship, soothed and flattered him; expressing their wishes to see him on the throne, and treated with neglect and contempt their lawful sovereign. Some, contrary to the accents, connect this with the word "walk" (h); that walk with the second child, join themselves to him, converse with him, and show him great respect and honour: and there are others that, by this second child, understand the poor and wise child, that succeeds the old and foolish king, whom yet, in time, the people grow weary of; such is the levity and inconstancy of people, that they are not long pleased with princes, old or young, wise or foolish. The Targum interprets this of the foresight Solomon had, by a spirit of prophecy, of those that rebelled against his son Rehoboam, and of those that cleaved unto him, who was his second, and reigned in his stead. Noldius (i) thinks Solomon refers to the history of his friend Hiram, king of Tyre, whose kingdom, in his and in his son's time, was very large, flourishing, and opulent, but in a following reign not so; and he renders and paraphrases the words thus,

""I saw all the works under the sun; with Baleazarus, the son of a friend" (Hiram, for rendered "second", is the same as "a friend"), "who shall stand" or "reign after him: there is no end of all the people",'' &c.

the kingdom in those two reigns being flourishing; yet posterity shall not rejoice in him, in Abdastratus, the grandson of Hiram, destroyed by the four sons of his nurse (k).

(h) So the Tigurine version, Vatablus, Cocceius, Gejerus. (i) Concord. Part. Ebr. No. 1023. (k) Meander apud Joseph. Contr. Apion. l. 1. s. 18.

I considered all the living who walk under the sun, {k} with the second child that shall stand up in his stead.

(k) Who follow and flatter the king's son, or him that will succeed to enter into credit with them in hope of gain.

15. with the second child that shall stand up in his stead] If we take the word “second” in its natural meaning, the clause may point either to the wise young ruler of the previous verse, as succeeding (i.e. coming second to) the old and foolish king, or possibly to his successor, and points in either case to what we have learnt to call the “worship of the rising Sun.” All gather round him, and their name is legion. There is “no end of all the people.”Verse 15. - I considered all the living which walk under the sun; or, I have seen all the population. The expression is hyperbolical, as Eastern monarchs speak of their dominions as if they comprised the whole world (see Daniel 4:1; Daniel 6:25). With the second child that shall stand up in his stead. "With" (עִם) means "in company with," "on the side of;" and the clause should be rendered, as in the Revised Version, That they were with the youth, the second, that stood up in his stead. The youth who is called the second is the one spoken of in the previous verses, who by general acclamation is raised to the highest place in the realm, while the old monarch is dethroned or depreciated. He is named second, as being the successor of the other, either in popular favor or on the throne. It is the old story of worshipping the rising sun. The verse may still be applied to Joseph, who was made second to Pharaoh, and was virtually supreme in Egypt, standing in the king's place (Genesis 41:40-44). "Better are two together than one, seeing they have a good reward in their labour." By hashshenaim, the author refers to such a pair; haehhad is one such as is just described. The good reward consists in this, that each one of the two has the pleasant consciousness of doing good to the other by his labour, and especially of being helpful to him. In this latter general sense is grounded the idea of the reward of faithful fellowship:
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