Proverbs 29:5

ESV A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet.
NIV Those who flatter their neighbors are spreading nets for their feet.
NASB A man who flatters his neighbor Is spreading a net for his steps.
CSB A person who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet.
NLT To flatter friends is to lay a trap for their feet.
KJV A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.

What does Proverbs 29:5 mean?

"Flattery" refers to undue compliments or excessive praise. Being flattered presents temptation, whether the flatterer is sincere or not. A dishonest flatterer, of course, is manipulating others (Proverbs 6:24; 26:28) by lying (Proverbs 6:16–19). Smooth words set a trap for the object of flattery. An example of this is sly, left-handed Ehud, who greeted the King of Moab with favorable words, then gruesomely assassinated the unsuspecting king (Judges 3:15–23).

However, most interpreters read this as a warning that those who flatter set a trap for themselves. This is supported by the opening half of the next proverb (Proverbs 29:6), which speaks of being tangled in one's own sins. This verse parallels a famous quote from author Walter Scott, who said, "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." Here, the flatterer is spreading out a net that will eventually cause them to trip. Since flattery is lying, the flatterer risks being caught in his dishonesty. It may come out that they've told different things to different people. Or they may be forced to admit their praise was deceptive. Lies contradict truth, and they eventually contradict each other.

Believers are summoned to recognize that lying is a work of the flesh that contradicts a life led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). Paul commands the Colossians, "Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices" (Colossians 3:9).
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