While meditating on a well-known Bible story, I realized something I hadn’t noticed before regarding flattery in the Bible.
In this popular story, which I will talk about later; you can notice from unscrupulous people a flattering attitude.
With that attitude, they managed to manipulate someone important to get what they wanted from him.
A detestable attitude that in my country is popularly known as rubbing the sack, or, more contemptuously and concisely, as “licking another.”
It is the practice of ingratiating yourself with someone at all costs.
For this, praise is used, or unnecessary or excessive attention, in order to obtain a personal benefit from that person.
Interested in meditating more deeply on this topic, I decided to write about what the Bible says about flattery to share with the readers of the blog.
I will start by trying to define what is meant by the word flattery in the Bible.
Biblical meaning of flattery
Generally, the more popular translations more often use the expression flattering lips.
From a biblical context, flattery can be defined as the act of paying excessive compliments, usually in order to ingratiate yourself with a person and get something you want from them.
It is an act of selfishness, manipulation, hypocrisy, and disloyalty with which we deceive another person for our benefit.
Difference Between Praise and Flattery in the Bible
The Bible does not condemn praise, which, unlike flattery, is about sincerely acknowledging the qualities and achievements of another person, and expressing our appreciation and admiration for them.
The difference between flattery and praise lies in the veracity of the statements and the intentions of the person making them.
Flattery is often untrue and selfishly motivated, while praise is sincere and selfless.
A compliment is intended to show empathy, appreciation, and motivate the recipient, while flattery is ultimately intended to benefit the flatterer.
What Does The Bible Say About Flattery?
#1 The flatterer seeks to take advantage
These are gossips, quarrelsome, who walk according to their own desires, whose mouth speaks inflated things, flattering people to profit.
| Jude 1:16
#2 God dislikes flattery
The Lord will destroy all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaks boastfully.
| Psalm 12:3
#3 Flattery is sin
In their mouth there is no sincerity; their entrails are evil, their throat is an open sepulcher, with their tongue they speak flattery.
| Psalm 5:9
#4 Beware of flatterers
The man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net before his footsteps.
| Proverbs 29:5
Woe to you, when all men speak well of you! because so did their fathers with the false prophets.
| Luke 6:26
#5 Flattery in the church is dangerous
I beseech you, brethren, to pay attention to those who cause divisions and stumbling blocks contrary to the doctrine that you have learned, and to turn away from them.
Because such people do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own bellies, and with soft words and flattery deceive the hearts of the naive.
| Romans 16:17,18
#6 We should prefer the favor of God to the human
Do I now seek the favor of men, or that of God?
Or do I try to please men?
For if he still pleased men, he would not be a servant of Christ.
| Galatians 1:10
Our exhortation did not proceed from error or impurity, nor was it by deception, but as we were approved of God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak; not as to please men, but God, who tests our hearts.
Because we never use flattering words, as you know, nor do we cover up avarice; God is witness; nor do we seek glory from men.
| 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6a
#7 God wants consistency
Answering He [Jesus] said to them:
Hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, as it is written: This people honors Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.
| Mark 7:6
Lord, who will dwell in Your tabernacle? Who will dwell on Your holy mountain?
He who walks in integrity and does justice, and speaks truth in his heart.
| Psalm 15:1,2
#8 Jesus refused to be flattered
[Jesus said:] Not everyone who says to me: Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven.
| Matthew 7:21
[Jesus pointed out:] Glory from men I do not receive.
| Juan 5:41
After this introduction to the subject of flattery in the Bible, as usual, I would like to approach the subject from the perspective of a biblical story, and then make several reflections on it.
A story about Flattery in the Bible
The story I was telling you about at the beginning of this post is that of the prophet Daniel, when King Darius wanted to make him head of all affairs in the kingdom.
However, some corrupt and envious co-workers decided to prevent it.
Since they couldn’t find anything to accuse him of because he was honest and loyal, they decided to set a trap for him related to his faithfulness to God to get him out of the way.
Let’s see what happened:
Then the administrators and satraps formed a commission to go speak with the king, and being in his presence they said:
“Long live his Majesty, King Darius!”
We the royal administrators, together with the prefects, satraps, councilors and governors, agree that His Majesty should issue and confirm a decree requiring that, for the next thirty days, anyone who worships any god or man other than His Majesty.
Issue that decree now, and put it in writing.
Thus, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, it cannot be revoked.
King Darius issued the decree and put it in writing.
| Daniel 6:6-9
What I want to highlight from this story, and what I intend to reflect on, is that the strategy used by Daniel’s enemies was flattery.
With it, using flattering words, they convinced the king to put himself above God and human conscience.
They manipulated him so that his ego grew so much that he believed he was a god.
Of course, Daniel kept praying to God as usual and ended up in the lion’s den.
In the end, thank God, everything works out for Daniel; but the flatterers end up discovered by the king in their tricks and become the dinner of hungry lions.
Allow me now to make some reflections on the subject of flattery in the Bible, taking as a reference the story that we have just read.
Dangers of Flattery in the Bible
When we are flattered
We are being deceived
In our story, the king was deceived by those who he thought were his friends and genuinely respected him.
He can do the same thing to us.
When we have a particular position or gift that others can benefit from, we should be wise in choosing the people close to us. There will always be fake people who are friendly, affectionate, and cooperative with us.
We must not be fooled by their praise of our abilities, talents, or appearance, in the end everything is a game in which only they win.
We are being manipulated
The villains in our story used flattery to manipulate the king into doing what they wanted, not what the king wanted.
When we notice that a person flatters us, we must be careful. Before he helps us, he is most likely manipulating us to do something that benefits him.
They can cause us ego problems
The hypocritical praise of his collaborators made the king so proud that he thought they were right to make him a god.
They brought him to the brink of insane arrogance.
While not everything bad that is said about us is true, not everything good that our flatterers say is true either. Keeping your feet on the ground and a humble heart is essential to guard against flatterers.
They’ll get us in trouble
Just as the king ended up decreeing the death penalty for a dear friend of his, history is littered with people who got into trouble as a result of allowing themselves to be manipulated by sycophants.
Sometimes that’s so good they don’t give so much. If we see that the praise and proposals of those who possibly flatter us are not realistic, let’s be careful. They can lead us to end badly.
When we flatter
Sooner or later, people find out
Our villains were not expecting it, but in the end, the king realized that they were not as trustworthy as he had believed.
When a person is sincere in his appreciation for us, he shows. When he is not, sooner or later it shows too.
The problem is what happens when we are exposed.
At the very least, indifference and loneliness await us.
We lose the trust of the people
Our villains enjoyed the king’s trust, though they did not deserve it. Being discovered in his deceitful hypocrisy, they irretrievably lost his trust.
There was no longer room for explanations or excuses, trust was irreparably broken.
When we use people as objects, as if they were pawns in our chess games, we build fragile trust relationships based on lies. As soon as we drop the house of cards, there’s nothing left to do.
We become the object of God’s wrath
Although the king sentenced those sycophants to death, this was an appetizer of the fruits of God’s wrath that they had sown through his evil deeds.
God loves flatterers and manipulators too, but if we don’t embrace truthfulness and change, sooner or later we will suffer the earthly and eternal consequences of those acts.
What do you think? What do you think is said about flattery in the bible? What is your experience? Share in the comments.