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The Consequences of Adultery
Proverbs 6:32-33 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
32 He who commits adultery with a woman is in want of heart;
he who does it is bringing his own soul to destruction.
33 Wounds and dishonor he will find,
and his disgrace will not be wiped away.
He who commits adultery with a woman is in want of heart: The heart is very prominent in the Scriptures, as it is mentioned about a thousand times in one way or another. By far, the great majority of its occurrences in the Scriptures, the word “heart” (לֵב leb) is used figuratively. Servants of God cannot be halfhearted or in want of heart, or even double hearted. (Ps 12:2; Prov. 10:13) As a reader of hearts, God can see any insincere or feigned behavior on our part. He is well aware of our actions and thinking, even when we are alone. He knows our heart condition. He knows what we are trying to do with our lives. He will know if our heart is good and we love God’s Word. (Josh. 1:8-9; Ps. 1:1-3; 119:97, 101, 105, and 165) A halfhearted person is lukewarmly worshiping God. (Ps 119:113; Rev. 3:16) This young man being tempted by adultery is double-hearted (literally, with a heart and a heart). He is trying to serve two masters (God and his flesh), or he is deceivingly saying one thing to his wife while thinking adulterous thoughts to himself. (1 Ch. 12:33; Ps 12:2) Jesus clearly condemned such double-hearted hypocrisy. (Matt 15:7-8) This young man facing an adulterous situation is also in want of heart, as he is inexperienced, lacking good sense and wisdom, lacking good judgment or discernment.
This verse talks to the adulterous man from 6:27-29 even more than it contrasts 6:30-31. Only an inexperienced, foolish young man lacking good sense and wisdom, lacking good judgment or discernment, would carry fire in his bosom believing that his clothes would not be burned, or only a stupid young man would think that he could walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched. Only an inexperienced, foolish young man lacking good sense and wisdom, lacking good judgment or discernment would believe that for mere immediate gratification, he can have an adulterous affair with another man’s wife and never be caught, never have to suffer the consequences.
He who does it is bringing his own soul to destruction: He who does what? What is “it”? He who has sexual relations with another man’s wife. Combining destruction (שָׁחַת shachath) with himself as the object of that destruction means that he is bringing himself to ruin, he is ravaging himself, devastating himself, he is cutting off his soul (life) both in this satanic age and the one to come. The danger can be even greater when this foolish man seeks sexual relations with someone else’s wife. An adulterous man endangers his “own soul,” or life, from the illicit woman’s husband.
Wounds and dishonor he will find: When this foolish adulterous man is eventually caught, and he will be in time, at best, he will lose the trust of his wife forever, and at worst, she will leave him, his family and friends will despise him, and the husband of the woman in his adulterous affair will seek retribution. In the end, he commits self-inflicted wounds on himself; he brings dishonor to himself (nothing but contempt or scorn, being looked down upon, living a life of shame), he destroys himself.
And his disgrace will not be wiped away: Here disgrace, contempt (חֶרְפָּה cherpah) is a state of dishonor. This dishonor and disgrace where family and friends see him with contempt or scorn; this life of shame will never be wiped away. This Hebrew verb (מָחָה machah) destroy, wipe out, blot out is frequently used to refer to the tears, sins, and the memory. The adulterous man has damaged his self-respect and prospects for real future happiness.
A person who commits adultery is a thief as well (6:30-31); he is stealing a person that belongs to another. The punishment for stealing food because one is starving can be asked back fivefold, how much more so for the one who steals another man’s wife, as he has no excuse for his actions! Committing adultery is a more atrocious offense. Job says of it, “For that would be shameful conduct; that would be an error to be punished by the judges.” (Job 31:11) Nathan confronted David of the wicked act of not only committing adultery, but trying to cover it up with the murder of Uriah. Nathan brought this to David’s attention by first describing a parable regarding what David deemed a most serious theft, which, he said, should be punished with death. (2Sam. 12:5) This allowed David to see the gravity of what he had done. Adultery is an offense for which there is no excuse, no rational reason why one would do such, which would be available to the thief, even the murderer. Adultery is simply the case of immediate gratification to satisfy an inhumane lust. While the thief might steal to deal with his hunger pains, the adulterer is only filling the self-absorbed desires that are going to cost him his soul. It is nothing more than self-destruction and the destruction of everyone touched by it. For one to get to the point of adultery, there was a lot of crushing, ignoring the conscience, destroying his power of reason, smothering his spiritual life along the way. The risk of ending up with a callused conscience that is now unfeeling may cause the person to go beyond repentance.