Proverbs 26:28

Lying Flattery


1. Chapter 26 ends with a relatively lengthy section on hypocrisy and deception.

2. The section began with vs. 23.

a. Vs. 23 – Hypocrisy is like a cheap piece of pottery covered with a thin glaze… a thin veneer to hide what is underneath.

b. Vs. 24 – Lying with the lips to cover up deceit within the heart.

c. Vs. 25 – The hypocrite speaks fair, but seven abominations are in his heart.

d. Vs. 26 – The hatred in his heart is covered by deceit—but eventually his hypocrisy shall be exposed.

e. Vs. 27 – Eventually, he will be ensnared by his own doing—applied to the lying hypocrite—who will one day be caught – snared.

f. Vs. 28 – Now Solomon links lying and flattery – another form of hypocrisy and deception.

3. To help us understand this proverb, it should be noted that it comes in the form of a synonymous parallelism.

a. That means that the two parts of the proverb are saying the same thing—only in different wording.

b. The same event or concept is considered from two different angles.

c. Thus, the lying and the flattery are not two different evils (antithetical parallelism) in this passage, but are one and the same.

28a A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it…

1. The first part of this proverb makes a simple statement about the EFFECT of lying.

a. It is a form of hatred
• The one lying hates the ones to whom he is lying.
• Of course, the liar would deny this vociferously, but we have inspired Scripture which says the opposite.
• He does hate those to whom he lies. It is a form of hatred.
• Whenever we lie, we are sinning.
• We are sinning against God first and foremost, but we are also sinning against the one to whom we lied… and/or to the one about whom we lied.
• It shows utter contempt and disrespect towards the one lied to… a form of hatred. It is cruel hatred.

b. Also, lying is a form of affliction
• Afflict: Crushed; oppressed; harass; distress.
• Lying to a person is a form of oppression… it is a way of domineering a person’s belief’s and emotions.
• It is an attempt to control what he thinks by injecting lies into his mind. He seeks to bring the one lied to by attempting to subjugate his mind… by feeding him lies—things to worry about.
» Employers sometimes lie to their employees and to their customers. It is oppression.
» Employees sometimes lie to their bosses about the quality of work they did—when they were letting things slip by—and the company pays for it. It causes distress to the owners.
» Dishonest politicians sometimes lie to their supporters—it is a form of oppression: maintaining power over the masses through deception.
» People seek to oppress others (maintain a position of power over them) through lies. Lying is a form of affliction – oppression.
• Lying to a person often causes distress, pain, anguish, and suffering to the one to whom we lie.
» It might cause distress if our lie generates fear.
» He fears and is distressed over something that did not happen… over a lie!
» It causes untold stress and distress—unnecessarily.
• Think of all the anguish and emotional pain that has been inflicted on others because of lies.
» It is painful to discover that the people you have trusted and befriended have been lying to you behind your back.
» It is painful to discover that your children have been lying to you… or your siblings… or your coworkers…
» You feel duped, used, disrespected, and trampled over.

c. A lying tongue IS hatred; and it DOES afflict and injure. We have all felt it. We have all been injured by lies.
• Nobody likes to be tricked, cheated, or lied to.
• Solomon, the wise observer of human nature observed many people lying over the years. He recorded his findings: lying is a form of hatred and oppression.

28b And a flattering mouth worketh ruin.

1. Solomon now elaborates further on hypocrisy and the deception of lying by connecting it together with flattery.

2. Flattery: To be smooth; slippery; slick; used of smooth words – flattery.

3. Usage of the term translated “flattery”:

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

b. Ps. 55:21 – “The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.”

c. Ps. 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.”

d. In both passages, that which was in the heart did not match that which rolled off the tongue. That is the essence of hypocrisy.

e. Flattery often masks what the person is really thinking.
• He says you look great—when he really thinks your outfit is ugly beyond words.
• He says he thinks you are an asset to the company, when he really is scheming for ways to have you laid off.
• His words are smooth (flattering) but war is in his heart.

f. Lying lips express inner hatred. Flattery is a lie—it too expresses hatred in the heart… that is covered up with sweet sounding words. Don’t be fooled by flattery.

g. There is a slanderous lie. Everyone recognizes that as an expression of hatred.

h. But there are also flattering lies. Not everyone recognizes those as expressions of hatred.

i. They are expressions of hatred because they result in ruin.

4. The EFFECT of flattering mouth: it worketh RUIN.

a. Ruin defined: Overthrow; cast down; means or occasion of stumbling; downfall; that which causes ruin, hurt, or destruction to others.

b. This is the effect of a flattery mouth.
• On the surface, flattery sounds smooth, gentle, nice, and sweet. Everyone loves to be flattered.
• But Solomon warns that often underneath the smooth words is something far more sinister: RUIN.
• Isa. 30:10 – “Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.”
» The false prophets spoke smooth words—words that were pleasant—what everyone wanted to hear. They tickled the ears of the hearers.
» They WANTED to be told deceit. They did not want the truth for the truth hurts.
» And those who followed the advice of the false prophets were brought to ruin—both spiritually and physically.

c. Flattery brings ruin to everyone involved: both to the flatterer and to the victims of deceitful flattery.
• It brings ruin to the flatterer –
» For eventually he falls into his own pit (vs. 27).
» And eventually hypocrisy shall be exposed (vs. 26).
• It brings ruin to the one flattered—IF he believes it!
» Flattery encourages whatever behavior is flattered.
» For example, if a man with a horrible singing voice is flattered when he sings, he may believe the flattery and do special music every week. Flattery isn’t doing him any favors.
» Or if the color blind man who wears clothes that look terrible together is flattered, he may wear it again.
» Prov. 28:23 – “He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.”
» It is more loving and considerate to be honest… and even rebuke when necessary rather than to flatter.
» A rebuke is designed to result in correction. Flattery covers up and avoids correction.
» In the long run, flattery hurts, it doesn’t help.
» Prov. 27:6 – “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
• And flattery can lead to PRIDE—which leads to a fall.
» You may think you are being kind to a person through flattery but it could cause pride and thus harm.
» Prov. 29:5 – “A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.”
» Don’t spread a net for your neighbor through flattery. Honesty is always the best policy.