The Folly of Adultery, 1

William J. Stewart | Lessons from the Book of Proverbs

Solomon already warned his son of the dangers of adultery. There are some things worth saying again, and this is one of them. So, once more, the wise king focuses his audience on the value of wisdom, the need to follow it’s direction, and the purity that will result in life.


My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. (6:20)

Solomon began this collection of proverbs with a statement very similar to this (1:8). He expected that his son listen to both his voice and that of his wife. Both had solid counsel to give a young man; both had a fervent interest in seeing him succeed in life, and especially in purity. Obedience to parents was a vital part of Moses’ law. It was listed in the 10 commandments (Exodus 20:12), the violation of which could result in death (Exodus 21:17).

Parental instruction ought to be obeyed. When the parents are focused on faith, a concern for spiritual things makes their will so much more valuable, not just in the childhood years, but also leading to a life of integrity here, and eternal life in the hereafter. Such direction ought to be held and kept close to our hearts. If it is, then it will become a perpetual guide to us. When we are out in the world, it will lead us; at rest, it will keep us secure; in the morning hours, it will help set our mind for the day.


For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life, to keep you from the evil woman, from the flattering tongue of a seductress. (6:22-23)

Godly commandments are given to light the right way and to reprove the wrong. When we hear and put into practice the counsel of God, it will help us avoid the seductions that may come our way. He warns of the evil woman, with her flattering tongue, her deceptive beauty, her fluttering eyelids. The devil is sly. He is a skillful gift wrapper. He is in tune to our preferences, what will “push your buttons,” and is happy to lay before us the very thing we think we want. Beware!

In our text, Solomon specifically deals with sexual sin, but the principle is the same, whatever the temptation. With God’s word we are able to overcome the allurement of sin (Matthew 4:1-11; 1 Corinthians 10:13).

Don’t underestimate the destructive nature of sin. Solomon plainly states:

…by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; and an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. (6:26)

Consider David as an example. Compare his life and faith before and after the sin with Bathsheba. He changed. At times, he was just a shell of the man he used to be. He gave sexual sin a foothold in his life, and it led him to a sin snowball that led him to murder Uriah the Hittite. His family suffered greatly due to his sin. In the end, we read about three dead sons and the rape of his daughter! All this, from a “innocent” peek at a naked woman. Sin will take you further than you ever thought you would go.

Solomon asked a couple of questions, to get his point across. “Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?” And again, “Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared?” In today’s culture, this would be worded, If you play with fire, you’re gonna get burned. We cannot leave a door open for sin (Genesis 4:7).


Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so destroys his own soul. Wounds and dishonor he will get, and his reproach will not be wiped away. (6:32-33)

The sin of adultery will leave scars upon a life that simply cannot fade away. Solomon gives a scenario to use as a comparison, or perhaps we might better say it is a contrast. If a hungry man steals to satisfy his hunger, though we might understand his motive, it is still wrong. And when he is found out, he must make restitution. In the end, he may be worse off than when he began—he may lose all that he has! And yet, even from this, it is possible for him to rebuild his life and to some day overcome the hardships he brought upon himself and his family through his theft.

It is not so with adultery. The adulterer brings wounds himself and his family, and enters a realm of dishonour which far exceeds a stolen morsel of bread. The motive behind his action is dubious. The result of his action is self-glorification. The eventual end of such is the destruction of families, friendships, and communities.

The one who has stolen bread can make restitution, and the harm is undone. The one who has committed adultery cannot take the action back, nor is there any way to repay for his deed. Adultery comes with consequences that change the course of lives. The reproach cannot simply be wiped away. How shall the jealous and angry husband be appeased?

Though adultery will cause great destruction in relationships and sets the soul in eternal danger, there is a solution. Christ died for sinners, including adulterers. Hear the apostle Paul:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:9-11)

God be praised that He has provided the solution for our sins. Let us follow His way, so that we might avoid sin altogether.

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