Proverbs 6:30-31 says, “Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.”

As humans, we sometimes sympathize with others in their crimes.  If a person is hungry, we can understand why he would steal.  He needs food.  Food is not something we lust after or fantasize about having.  The desire for food comes from starvation.  Most of us know how it feels to be hungry, some of us even know how it feels to be starving.  So, we often feel sorry for those who would steal food.  It manifests a great need.

However, some people may be hungry because they refuse to work.  We read in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”  The refusal to work to buy necessary food will certainly take away the sympathy of those who would feel sorry for the hungry man. 

Either way, the punishment or recourse for stealing food still stands.  “He shall restore sevenfold.”  Even if the theft was a pitiful act, judgment was not swayed.  Let’s compare this verse with Exodus 22:1, “If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.”  Under the law, one only had to restore fivefold or fourfold for stealing food.  It seems to be in this case that this speaks not of that restitution which the law required, but of that which the wronged person might force the thief to make, even if he had to give “all the substance of his house.”

We need to consider Proverbs 6:32 to get a fuller sense of what is being taught here.  That says, “But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.”  When we compare verse 31 with verse 32, we see that it is being pointed out that the thief CAN made restitution for his crimes, but the adulterer CANNOT.  Indeed, this act destroys his own soul. 

The case is that of a married man.  He has a wife; and therefore is not in the same situation of the poor thief, who stole to satisfy his hunger, having nothing to eat. We can rightly see that the thief had no food, and he stole some because of his great hunger.  The married man had a wife, and yet went in to the wife of his neighbor.  There is no excuse, no plausible reason.  It is sin, pure and simple. Sin that cannot be restored to his neighbor.  (378.2)