Proverbs 29:5

A man that flattereth his neighbor spreadeth a net for his feet.
– Proverbs 29:5

The word for flattereth means smooth, and indicates smooth talk. Wisdom consistently treats flattery as malicious and ruinous, to be avoided (Proverbs 2:16; 7:5; 26:28; 28:23). Ultimately, the man who gains by flattery will bring ruin upon himself (Proverbs 1:17-19; 26:27; 28:19).

Proverbs 28:23

He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favor than he that flattereth with the tongue.
– Proverbs 28:23

This saying contrasts the immediate with the long term. The general tenor of wisdom is to consider the long view more than the short run. The word for rebuketh means give a corrective of some kind that could range from gentle to severe. It speaks of frankness as in Proverbs 27:5-6, which is preferable.

The contrast is with smoothness, or flattereth. Flattery is typically a cover for some ulterior motive (Proverbs 2:16; 7:5; 29:5). The thrust of the saying is not to the recipient of rebuke or flattery, but to the giver. Flattery may gain immediate favor, but it will not last (Proverbs 26:28).

Proverbs 26:28

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

– Proverbs 26:28

This saying concludes this section with wisdom observations on lying and flattering. The word for hateth is sometimes translated as enemy, but most often as some form of hate. The word for afflicted means crushed, or injured. A liar is an enemy to and injurer of those he lies to. The righteous, or wise, man hates lying (Proverbs 13:5) and wisdom teaches to put it far from us (Proverbs 4:24). The word for flattering means smooth (Proverbs 5:3) and is readily grouped with lying. The word for ruin means overthrow and indicates the inevitable outcome of lying and flattering.




Proverbs 7:15

Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.
– Proverbs 7:15

She claims to seek him urgently. It is already night and the peace offering must be eaten soon. We discover another angle she uses is urgency. She doesn’t want him to take time to consider, and again she has him thinking on the peace offering meal more immediately. She also flatters him as though he were the particular one she sought. This is an ancient deception but works so well as it appeals to pride. Everyone thinks they are unique and special. To have someone else acknowledge this flatters us irresistibly.

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 7:13

So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him,
– Proverbs 7:13

Verses 13-21 recount her successful trapping. She caught him, or grabbed him. The simple youth’s wandering and her hunting brought them together. She kissed him so as to excite him at once and make her words to follow more forcible. The word for impudent means hard or strong. It speaks of her resolve and shamelessness. She is determined to catch her prey and will brook no rejection.

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 6:24

To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.
– Proverbs 6:24

The design of keeping the father’s commandments and not forsaking the mother’s law that began in verse 20 is here explained as to keep from the evil woman. The flattery of the tongue, or smooth and alluring speech, is a strong weapon she uses to subdue her prey (Proverbs 2:16; 5:3). Speech enters through the ears and is pondered in the heart and mind. The evil woman appeals to the inner lust and that is where the battle is as per the next verse. Keeping wisdom as prescribed will also keep us away from such sinful enticement.

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 2:16

To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words;
– Proverbs 2:16

Solomon here introduces the “strange woman,” of whom he has much more to say in chapters 5-7. The word for strange means foreign and refers to the pagan women of the nations outside of Israel. Through usage the term came to refer to any loose, immoral, and adulterous woman. Solomon will go on to sketch her character and her ways more fully. Mention of her is accompanied with appropriate warning. The strange woman represents a second kind of danger for fools lacking wisdom and is a complement to the evil man previously mentioned.

The strange woman has a prominent role in Proverbs as she is set as the anti-wisdom, or the opposite of lady wisdom. Wisdom will protect from and deliver from this dangerous adulterous. She flatters with her words, meaning she uses smooth speech to persuade the simple to go with her. Her smooth speech is appealing and designed to ignite passion in the man she seeks to ensnare. So she is a manipulator as well, using all her wiles to take her prey.

The strange woman is also contrasted with the virtuous woman of chapter 31. Strange women are presented as being plenteous and seemingly everywhere present. The virtuous woman is immediately described as being hard to find, but imminently valuable when found. Solomon knew by bitter experience the difference between the two and gave impassioned warnings against the strange woman.

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series