“For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent. Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry” (Proverbs 6:26-30). Wait a minute. Scripture just shifted gears here. We went from adultery to thievery real quick. It is an intended comparison between the sins of adultery and theft.
Years ago, a store owner called the authorities because he caught a man stealing a hunk of beef. The thief was extremely remorseful and embarrassed (not the norm for a criminal). He made the plea that his family was hungry and he had been out of work. Back in the day there were not as many programs available to the poor as there are today. After being used to lies; the truth was refreshing. An instant ‘go fund me account’ was established, the proprietor was paid and the hungry crook went home forgiven and his family ate that night. You see as verse 30 claims, we do not despise a thief if he is hungry. It does not make it right and it is still wrong in the eyes of God. But unlike adultery, there is restitution to be made for thievery. There is no atonement by way of an after act with the sin of adultery. One can make good to a store owner, but not to a dishonored spouse.
Another reason for including theft with adultery was to show us the seriousness of the sin of adultery. God ordained harsher penalties for adultery (Leviticus 20:10) in the Mosaic Law than for theft (Exodus 22:1-4). One theologian puts it this way, ”Gold may be repaid fourfold, but dishonour brought upon a husband by a wife’s infidelity is a blot which cannot be effaced. The loss of the poor man’s ewe-lamb might be atoned for, but David could not have restored to Uriah an innocent wife” (2 Samuel 12:1-6). Remember, to commit adultery is to sin against one’s own body. Last Monday the reading instructed us to rejoice with the wife (husband) of thy youth (Proverbs 5:18-italics mine). If this isn’t enough Scripture, may I add the Commandment-”Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14).