Proverbs 30:20

Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.
– Proverbs 30:20

Verse 20 is the conclusion the sage was driving at with the list of incomprehensible things. There’s no need to puzzle long over the list and seek mysterious meanings. Each operates in a natural, ordered, and designed way—the eagle in the air, the serpent on a rock, the ship in the sea, and the man and woman in marriage. The wonder is the hardness of the “adulterous woman.” Descriptions and warnings about her have abounded in the wisdom sayings (Proverbs 2:16-19; 5:1-14, 20-23; 7:1-27; 9:17; 22:14; 23:27-28). The point of the wisdom sayings is not that women are the main ones guilty of sexual sins, or are worse than men. We must remember that wisdom sayings are given in the form of fatherly or motherly instructions to a young man and a part of wisdom is understanding the application of wisdom to various people and situations.

Just as the eagle and the serpent move naturally in their habitat, the adulteress is at home in her adulteries. Sexual sin is just as normal and natural as eating and drinking. She sees no spiritual or moral value at stake, “I have done no wickedness.” God designed and ordered one man, one woman marriage and all sexual activity outside that order is sin of various descriptions in Scripture.

Proverbs 7:23

Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.
– Proverbs 7:23

An arrow to the liver is a mortal wound. Life is in the balance. It could be more immediately or ultimately. The way of fornication and adultery is a way that only ends in death. The last image is the bird going for the bait in the snare unknowing the snare means its life. Again the thought conveyed is that the young man doesn’t really comprehend what he is doing, nor the great cost associated with it.

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Proverbs 7:22

He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;
– Proverbs 7:22

Verses 22-23 paint the results with different images. Straightway refers to the sudden turn once his heart and mind are overcome. His yielding is full. The ox is witless in going to the slaughter and so the young man in going with the strange woman. He hasn’t fully comprehended the cost he will have to pay.

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Proverbs 7:5

That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.
– Proverbs 7:5

The fatherly admonition is designed keep from the strange woman. Wisdom is to be kept, guarded, treasured, and loved. The one who does so will keep from the strange woman. Protection is particularly needed against her words. She flatters or speaks smooth words that appeal to the lust of the flesh. Here again Solomon pits the words of wisdom against froward words the young man will encounter. The froward words here are those in the guise of an adulterous woman. Smooth talk is one of her wiles to be recognized and guarded against (Proverbs 2:16; 5:3; 6:24).

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Proverbs 6:35

He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.
– Proverbs 6:35

The section and chapter closes with a completing thought. The thief may make restitution and thereby reconciliation but such is not the case with the adulterer. The rightly jealous husband’s rage will not be placated by any ransom or gift. History has proven that jealous rage to often be murderous and not to be reasoned with. This isn’t a treatise on what the defrauded spouse may or may not do in such a case, but rather a sober warning to the young man to have wisdom and keep away from such a woman at all costs.

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Proverbs 6:34

For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.
– Proverbs 6:34

Whereas the starving thief may find sympathy from the man he has robbed and make restitution to him, the adulterer will not find any sympathy from the man whose wife he has taken. He will find rage, or furious anger fueled by his jealousy for his wife. He will show no leniency in vengeance. Vengeance could refer to seeking judicial punishment or exacting personal vengeance. Either way, the defrauded husband will not spare to press for all he can when the opportunity is given.

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Proverbs 6:33

A wound and dishonor shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.
– Proverbs 6:33

The thief can make restitution and escape ignominy because of his hunger. The adulterer gets to himself a blot that cannot be wiped away. Wound, dishonor, and reproach could speak to social consequences and judicial ones. By the law, such a one should be put to death (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22), though it doesn’t seem that law was ever faithfully upheld. Should he live, he will have to live with the consequent shame and reproach of his acts. Consider King David and how he is not spoken of except his adultery with Bathsheba is thought of.

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Proverbs 6:32

But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.
– Proverbs 6:32

Understanding is from the word often translated “heart.” It can refer to the emotions, will, or intellect, and sometimes can take in all these meanings. Here a lack of understanding is the intention. A man who commits adultery demonstrates that he lacks wisdom. He demonstrates that he doesn’t fully grasp the consequences or depths of sin against others and the damage he does to himself. The consequences both immediate and in the future of this life are many, but if one goes on in this sin unrepentant, they inherit eternal damnation.

We also must never lose sight of the fact that Jesus taught adultery is also a sin within the heart, even if it never finds physical expression (Matthew 5:27-30). The lust he condemns is not merely a start of sin, but is sin itself. The warning accords with Solomon’s warnings to even stay away from the house of a strange woman (Proverbs 5:8).

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Proverbs 6:29

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.

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