“Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits.” Daniel 11:32
I'm more familiar with the second half of this verse. I've quoted it and heard numerous sermons on this subject. Recently as I read Daniel the first portion captured my interest.
The saying “Flattery will get you nowhere,” refers to attempts to gain advantage through insincere compliments. Corruption by flattery? Stealth warfare at its finest. Flowery words and glowing accolades are a feast for the ears and sweet to taste. Once ingested, they go to work destroying their victim from the inside out.
The Bible portrays flattery in a most unflattering light. Everyone likes to hear nice things about themselves. A genuine compliment given to bless and encourage can be a cool drink to a parched soul. Sincere demonstrations of appreciation help us plug away at difficult and/or thankless tasks.
Flattery has a certain slimy ilk about it. What sounds so good leaves a bad after taste. It can, however, prove to be addicting if one’s desperate for recognition. Negative attention is better than none at all. The danger comes when one dines continually on a diet of misinformation. People fail all the time; they fall victim to their own press.
God doesn't condone flattery which is rooted in deception. He does allow it to work its sinister destruction in those who actively and intentionally oppose His covenant. Jehovah Sneaky (ok, not one of His official names) doesn't need to even lift His little finger against his enemies. They have plenty of so-called friends and hangers-on whose sugar-coated, poison pill words work just fine.
The Bible reminds us about the power of our words. They can bring life and cause death. We must guard not only what we say but also what we listen to. In this verse it is those who consciously oppose God who are harmed but this can apply to Christians too. We also need to be cognizant of words spoken over us. God can teach us to discern the difference between a real compliment and flattery. The former we can graciously receive and pass the glory on to God. The latter – dump it in the trash and move on.
How about you? What do you do when you feel slimed by a back handed compliment? What measures can you take to avoid doling out flattery to others? Is there really any justification to use flattery at any time?