The Adulterer Sins Against His Own Life
THE writer of the book of Proverbs speaks as a father counseling his son. Proverbs 6:30-35 reads: “People do not despise a thief just because he commits thievery to fill his soul when he is hungry. But, when found, he will make it good with seven times as much; all the valuables of his house he will give. Anyone committing adultery with a woman is in want of heart; he that does it is bringing his own soul to ruin. A plague and dishonor he will find, and his reproach itself will not be wiped out. For the rage of an able-bodied man is jealousy, and he will not show compassion in the day of vengeance. He will have no consideration for any sort of ransom, neither will he show willingness, no matter how large you make the present.”
Here a thief and an adulterer are compared. Men may have some feeling of compassion toward a thief who steals because he is hungry. Some versions, however, read: “Do not men despise a thief?” Whether he is despised or not, when caught, the thief is punished. Under the Mosaic law the thief was to pay double, fourfold or fivefold, according to the items stolen and the circumstances. (Ex. 22:1, 4, 7) Here in Proverbs 6 ‘sevenfold’ likely means a complete payment, according to what the judges would assess, “seven” often being used to denote completeness. Or it may mean that, in order to appease the injured party and establish peace with him, it could cost the thief all he owned.
On the other hand, the adulterer is “in want of heart”—there is nothing in his motive that gives any room for others to feel compassion for him. They will despise him much more than they would the thief. Furthermore, the adulterer is not merely forfeiting his possessions, but bringing his own soul—his life—to ruin. Under the Law adulterers were put to death. (Lev. 20:10) But even though, as in modern times, he may not be punished with death, his dishonor and reproach cannot be wiped out—the scars that it causes to himself, his mate, his family, his relationships with friends, are never fully healed. And he may contract a harmful venereal disease.
Moreover, the adulterer has to face the wrath of the jealous husband. When the husband finds out, his rage will accept no arguments or excuses. While the thief can make peace by restitution, no ransom or payment can satisfy the injured husband and offer protection from his vengeance.—Compare Proverbs 27:4.