People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving. Yet when he is found, he must restore sevenfold; he may have to give up all the substance of his house.
Solomon does not say this to condone stealing, but to set us a contrast with the sin he describes in verses 32-35. The flow of his argument is this: A man can understand the need to eat, and so he is much more likely to understand someone who stole from him than one who commits adultery with his wife. People may accept restitution for stealing, but nothing can make up for the terrible effects of adultery.
We’ll look more at Solomon’s wise warnings about the devastating results of adultery next week. For more about what God says about the sin of stealing, see “Eighth Commandment: You Shall Not Steal.”