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Thank You!  Will You Tell Me That Again?

The Flattering Tongue

Victor M. Eskew




A.     Two contradictory statements about flattery.

1.       Flattery will get you nowhere.

2.       Flattery will get you everywhere.


B.     The second statement seems to contain the truth.

1.       Flattery works.

2.       “People love to be praised, held in high esteem, and have their egos stroked” (https://www.crossroad.to/articles2/05/teichrib/flattery.htm).


C.     The Bible has a lot to say about the subject of flattery.  Let’s examine flattery under the title:  “Thank You! Will You Tell Me That Again:  The Flattering Tongue.”




A.     Psalm 5:9


For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulcher; they flatter with their tongue.


B.     Proverbs 7:21


With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.


C.     I Thessalonians 2:5


For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of coveteousness; God is witness.


D.    Job 17:5


He that speaketh flattery to his friends, even the eyes of his children shall fail.


E.      Proverbs 29:5


A man that flattereth his neighbor spreadeth a net for his feet.


II.           DEFINITION


A.     The Old Testament word springs from the same root word.

1.       Strong (2505):  to be smooth

2.       BDB:  to be smooth, slippery, deceitful


B.     The New Testament word for flattery carries the same definition.

1.       Strong (2850):  a fawner (to seek attention and admiration (from) by cringing and flattery

2.       Thayer:  smooth


C.     Flattery is defined as excessive, insincere praise.


D.    I have heard flattery defined as “laying it on thick,” or “slobbering all over another person.”




A.     King Herod (Acts 12:21-22)


And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.  And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.


B.     The false prophets flattered King Ahab saying he would be victorious in battle (II Kings 22:6).


Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear?  And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.


C.     NOTE:  It is possible for a person to flatter himself.

1.       Psalm 36:2


For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful.


2.       Example:  Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4:29-30)


At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.  The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?




A.     They want to be in another’s good graces.


B.     In order to manipulate people and circumstances in their favor (i.e., recognition, pay raise, promotion, performance of others to do what they desire of them).




A.     Flattery is connected to lying (Ps. 78:36).


Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.


B.     Flattery is connected to a double heart (Ps. 12:2).


They speak vanity every one with his neighbor:  with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.


C.     Flattery is often connected to evil people (Ps. 5:9; Prov. 6:24; 7:21).


To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.


D.    Flattery is connected to ruin (Prov. 26:28).


A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.


E.      Flattery is speech that is connected with Satan and hell.

1.       “Dante depicts flatterers wading in human excrement, stating that their words were the equivalent of excrement, in the 8th Circle of Hell” (www.wikipedia.com, “Flattery”).

2.       "Oh, how I lie! If a fellow be a churlish lout, I tell him how sensitive and discriminating he is. If a girl is so ugly that she must sneak up on a glass of water, I allude to her great beauty. If one's performance is mediocre at best, I applaud his great talent. I praise the skinflint on his generosity and the hysteric on his levelheaded judiciousness. And it makes them all feel good." (Satan Speaks, Anton LeVay pp.101-102).  LaVey is the founder of the Satanic Church.



A.     Jesus was a man who gave out several compliments to others, but He never flattered anyone.

1.       Jesus described Nathaniel as “an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (John 1:47).

2.       Jesus told the disciples of the centurion:  “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel (Matt. 8:10).

3.       Jesus said of John the Baptist:  “…there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist” (Matt. 11:11).

4.       He said of the woman who washed His feet with her hair:  “…for she loved much” (Luke 7:47).

5.       Jesus affirmed that Mary “hath chosen that good part…” (Luke 10:42).

6.       In the last day, He will say of all the faithful:  “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…” (Matt. 25:21, 23).


B.     The contrast between a compliment and flattery:


Flattery                                                         Compliment


1.       Insincere                                                    1.         Sincere

2.       Exaggeration of truth or no truth                 2.         Truth

3.       Hidden agenda:  win favor                           3.         No hidden agenda:  no reward

4.       Drawn out                                                  4.         Brief

5.       Done often                                                 5.         Given occasionally

6.       Puffs up                                                      6.         Builds up

7.       Showy                                                        7.         No show

8.       Undeserved                                                            8.         Deserved




A.     Quotes about flattery:

1.       “He that is much flattered soon learns to flatter himself” (Dr. Samuel Johnson).

2.       “Flattery is an ensnaring quality; and leaves a very dangerous impression.  It swells a person’s imagination, entertains his fancy, and drives him to a doting upon his own person” (Jeremy Collier).

3.       “Though they know that the flatterer knows the falsehood of his own flatteries, yet they love the imposter, and with both arms hug the abuser” (Robert South).


B.     We enjoy flattery, but rebuke is often better for us (Prov. 28:23).


He that rebuketh a man, afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.


C.     “…therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips” (Prov. 20:19b).