Bible Topics: Flattery

Definition: Excessive or insincere praise; praising another to promote one’s own interests.

1. Jesus gave no place to those who tempted Him with flattery.

* Luke 20:20-23 And they watched Him [Jesus], and sent forth spies, which should feign [pretend to be] themselves just men, that they might take hold of His Words, that so they might deliver Him unto the power and authority of the governor. 21 And they asked Him, saying, Master, we know that Thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest Thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly: 22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no? 23 But He perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye Me?

* Matthew 7:21 [Jesus said:] Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in Heaven.

* Mark 7:6 [Jesus] answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. [See also Isaiah 29:13; Ezekiel 33:31.]

* John 5:41,42,44 [Jesus said:] I receive not honour from men. 42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.… 44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?

2. The insincerity of flattery:

* Psalm 12:2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.

* Psalm 5:9 For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.

* Psalm 62:4 They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly.

* Psalm 78:36-37 They did flatter Him with their mouth, and they lied unto Him with their tongues. 37 For their heart was not right with Him, neither were they stedfast in His covenant.

3. Flattery is motivated by self-interest.

* Proverbs 19:4,6 Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour. 6 Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts. [See also Proverbs 14:20.]

* Isaiah 5:21,23 Woe unto them … which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!

* Ezekiel 33:31b With their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.

* Romans 16:17,18 Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

* Jude 1:16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.

4. Examples of flattery:

* 2 Samuel 15:2-6 [Absalom, the son of King David, used flattery on the people to win political favor and to undermine his father’s influence. Later on he tried to steal the kingdom from David.] And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel. 3 And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee. 4 Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice! 5 And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him. 6 And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

* 2 Kings 22:11-38 [False prophets spoke flattering prophecies to King Ahab, but were exposed by Micaiah, the true prophet, who prophesied Ahab’s death. Micaiah risked his life and was imprisoned for speaking the truth, but the Lord’s Word was fulfilled.]

* Proverbs 7 [This chapter is an allegory in which the wicked, greedy materialists of the world are depicted as an harlot:] 2 Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye … 5 That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words. … 21 With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. 22 He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks.

* Daniel 11:21b [The Antichrist uses flattery to deceive:] He shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. [See also Daniel 11:34.]

5. Although flattery gives the impression of “building up” the other person, it actually works against them.

* Proverbs 26:28b A flattering mouth worketh ruin.

* Proverbs 29:5 A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.

6. People will appreciate loving honesty more than shallow flattery.

* Psalm 141:5a Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head.

* Proverbs 25:12 As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.

* Proverbs 27:5,6 Open rebuke is better than secret love. 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

* Proverbs 28:23 He that rebuketh a man shall find more favour afterwards than he that flattereth with the tongue. [See also Matthew 18:15.]

7. The Lord does not bless those who use flattery.

* Job 32:21,22 [Elihu says:]Let me not, I pray You, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. 22 For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my Maker would soon take me away.

* Proverbs 24:24 He that saith unto the wicked, Thou are righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him.

* Psalm 12:3 The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things.

8. The Word clearly warns us of the dangers of accepting flattery.

* Proverbs 6:23,24 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: 24 To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. [See Proverbs chapter 7.]

* Proverbs 20:19 He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.

* Luke 6:26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets.

9. For the Lord’s blessing and for the sake of our sample and ministry, we must not be guilty of flattery.

* Psalm 15:1,2 Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? 2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.

* Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

* 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6a For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: 4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the Gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. 5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: 6a Nor of men sought we glory.

10. The Word gives us wisdom to discern and escape the snare of flattery.

* Proverbs 2:10,11,16 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; 11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: 16 To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words.

* Proverbs 7:1-5 My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. 2 Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. 3 Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart. 4 Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman: 5 That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words. [See also Proverbs 6:23,24.]

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