But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.
– Proverbs 6:31
Restoring sevenfold is an expression that refers to the law of restitution (Exodus 22:1-4). Sevenfold expresses a severe penalty paid. Theft was a breach between neighbors and restitution was a means of reconciling them. Jesus taught the law was summed up in love for God first and love for neighbor second (Matthew 22:37-40). Coveting and stealing from your neighbor violates that love and restitution is designed to restore it. So a thief who steals because he is hungry, does not incur the utmost condemnation from society and restitution provides a means for him to be reconciled to his neighbor.
Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry;
– Proverbs 6:30
Verses 30-35 end this section with a comparison between an adulterer and a thief. Solomon qualifies the theft that it is in order to satisfy the soul of the hungry man. A destitute and hungry man is not despised and cast out of society when he has stolen something in order to eat. Solomon is certainly not excusing the theft, but rather observing the consequences. The thief may be looked upon as a poor man, but he is not condemned by society the way the adulterer is (Proverbs 6:33). Even in our day of marriage confusion and the advocacy of same-sex marriage, adultery, or cheating, is still looked down upon as wrong and despicable.
So he that goeth in to his neighbor’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.
– Proverbs 6:29
The previous two verses are aimed at the one who goes in to his neighbor’s wife. He has embraced fire and walked upon a path of burning coals. The consequential burning is obvious. Touch is euphemistic for physical passion. He who does so will not go unpunished, as the word for innocent indicates. Punishments come from different directions to the adulterer and he will receive some or all of them. Solomon enumerates many of those punishments in his warnings.
Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?
– Proverbs 6:28
This verse echoes the previous verse, giving an emphasis to the lesson. Hot coals are the burning coals or embers of a fire. Walking or going upon the coals indicates a continued action. Walking a path of hot coals will burn the feet. Both verses provide an inescapable conclusion, being burned. Fire is destructive and needs little to catch and burn (James 3:5). Fire can also quickly get out of control to where there is no putting it out. It is an apt description of the dangerous consequences of adultery.
Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?
– Proverbs 6:27
Solomon uses a metaphor of cause and effect to warn of the consequences of adultery. Of course, he poses an impossibility—a man cannot embrace fire without his clothes being burned. One implication would be that a man can never come out unscathed. He will feel some effect and likely a total ruin.
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.
– Proverbs 6:26
There are various takes on the first phrase of this verse. From the context, it is obvious the intention is to focus on the high price of this sin. The first devastation is to a man’s substance. This is a consistent warning in Scripture (Proverbs 5:10; 29:3; Luke 15:30). The second is to a man’s life or soul. The way of wisdom is the way of life and the way of folly is the way of death. The way of the adulteress is the way of extreme folly. She is compared to a hunter here who stealthily traps his prey. One might find here an underlying, ulterior motive that differs from her enticing speech and promises (Proverbs 7:13-21).
Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.
– Proverbs 6:25
The word for lust means desire or to covet. The law forbade coveting your neighbor’s wife (Exodus 20:17). He means not to desire her nor think on her in the mind. Jesus taught that such thought is sin (Matthew 5:28) and can lead to further sin and consequences (James 1:14-15). Solomon proceeds from here to enumerate further consequences as well. He warns to not be taken or carried away by her eyes, her adornment and gestures. The presentation suggests the need to be on guard and avoid such a folly and trap.
To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.
– Proverbs 6:24
The design of keeping the father’s commandments and not forsaking the mother’s law that began in verse 20 is here explained as to keep from the evil woman. The flattery of the tongue, or smooth and alluring speech, is a strong weapon she uses to subdue her prey (Proverbs 2:16; 5:3). Speech enters through the ears and is pondered in the heart and mind. The evil woman appeals to the inner lust and that is where the battle is as per the next verse. Keeping wisdom as prescribed will also keep us away from such sinful enticement.
For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:
– Proverbs 6:23
Solomon is not merely speaking of the homespun wisdom of the older generation. He is talking about God’s word and the wisdom in it. Commandment, law, and instruction are references to God’s word (Psalm 119:105). He is still mentioning benefits of wisdom and this verse explains the previous one. Lamp, light, and way of life speak of illuminating and guiding in the wise course of life. Reproofs are corrections that come through instruction, so wisdom provides a continual course corrective as we proceed through life.