Psalm 12:3a and Flattery

"May the LORD cut off all flattering lips"
Flattery may seem to warm the heart, but it's the fires of ego, threatening to burn down the house.  It causes people to drop their guard, and the manipulative wield it to their advantage.  Because of it, men and women have compromised their integrity, and I've seen them lose jobs, commit crimes, and lose their worldly freedom as a result. 

Smooth words are dangerous, and so is the mouth that delivers them.  They're the opposite of encouragement, as people use their tongues for their own ends.  Consider Proverbs 26:28, which says, "A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin."  Said another way, "A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet" (Pv 29:5).

This is certainly a counter-cultural message today, as the preeminence of self-esteem means that most people flatter, at least with the goal of receiving flattery in return.  Even so, it's far more favorable to find someone who will care enough to speak the truth than who will fluff your ego.  As Proverbs 28:22 says, "Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue."

Folks today fear offending others, but we need honesty, not platitudes.  Spurgeon said it best:
“Compliments and fawning congratulations are hateful to honest men; they know that if they take they must give them, and they scorn to do either. These accommodation-bills are most admired by those who are bankrupt in character. Bad are the times when every man thus cajoles and cozens his neighbour.”[1]


[1] C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Psalms 1-26, vol. 1 (London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers, n.d.), 142.

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