Have you ever been accidentally burnt from a fire? It hurts, doesn’t it? Have you ever messed around with fire even though you knew what could happen? That is unwise. In Proverbs we have a rhetorical question about an unwise man playing with fire.
“27 Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? 28 Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared? 29 So is he who goes in to his neighbour’s wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent.”
Surely you will be saying, “Of course he will get burned!” So it is with adultery. A man who commits adultery with another man’s wife is heaping those burning coals onto himself. It is an unavoidable outcome of doing such a wicked thing. He embraced the fire of adultery and will suffer the results.
What is the burning? Possibly a number of things like retribution from the husband, having a case against him, disease, dishonour and such. There is much at stake, and as we see in the next few verses, it starts to get expensive.
“30 People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving. 31 Yet when he is found, he must restore sevenfold; he may have to give up all the substance of his house.”
This little anecdote about a starving thief is relevant to the argument. The man who steals to survive is still guilty of his crime and is required to pay back the worth of what was stolen with interest. He owes much because he stole what wasn’t rightfully his.
As it is with the adulterer. He owes much because he took what he didn’t own. He might end up losing his life for his sin.
He also is said to wreck destruction on his own soul:
My thoughts on this verse is that there is a forgetting or pushing aside of morals and decency in this situation, and they don’t come back so easily. Once a choice like this is made, it is hard to turn back.
However, I feel this passage, and in fact all of Proverbs, needs to be examined more in depth than I actually provide for here.*
Moving on, we see a terrifying force in action. The husband. He will not be quenched with apologies. He is not satisfied with gifts. He is one not to be reckoned with;
“33 Wounds and dishonour [the man] will get, and his reproach will not be wiped away. 34 For jealousy is a husband’s fury; therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. 35 He will accept no recompense, nor will he be appeased though you give many gifts.”
Picture this: your wife has been caught in adultery. The perpetrator offers you an apology. He says it was a fling. He gives you an earnest expression of regret. You fume inside and want to wring his neck. Nothing he does will get back what he took! If only you could deal with this the way you feel like doing! You are an aggrieved and jealous husband. You are justified.
The man who comes up against this better watch out. He used the wife, angered the husband, and has God yet to contend with. Better to not have touched that fire…Amen.
Your turn: What do you think verse 32 means by adultery destroying a man’s soul?
*I really intend my posts to encourage a thorough study of God’s Word. I’m giving a bit of depth, but can’t say I am delving deeply enough for some of you. I can only do so much in a daily post.
Note: All scripture is taken from Biblestudytools.com. I am using a commentary by John Kitchen for help with difficult concepts and words.