Psalm 36:2 – “For he flatters himself in his own eyes when he finds out his iniquity and when he hates.”
What David is saying is that when a wicked man learns of his own sins, he smoothes them over. He explains his sins way; he justifies his sins. It’s as if he enjoys them even more! This is certainly not the characteristic of a godly man, is it?
Often in the Book of Proverbs, the immoral woman is described as having flattering lips because she justifies her sins of sexual immorality to the extent that she invites other to join her in her practices. She smoothes them over.
Flattery of oneself is very dangerous. Paul commands us in Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly …” Someone who flatters is spiritually naïve. He thinks he is further than he really is.
Moses illustrates the self-flatterer this way: “So that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood; and so it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart’ – as though the drunkard could be included with the sober” (Deut 29:18-19).
He looks into his stormy evil heart and thinks the waters are calm.
In a sermon entitled, “The Vain Self Flattery of the Sinner,” Jonathan Edwards gives a multiple number of ways men self-flatter.
- Some flatter themselves with a secret hope that there is no such thing as another world. They think they will be “okay” when their life here on earth ends. They flatter themselves.
- Some flatter themselves that death is far off. They think they will have time to take life seriously and “get right” with God. They think a deathbed conversion will be sufficient and enough. They flatter themselves.
- Some flatter themselves that they lead moral and orderly lives and therefore think that they shall not be damned. They think doing good to others is sufficient to get them into heaven. They think their good deeds will pacify God’s anger and justice. They flatter themselves.
- Some live in a place where the gospel is powerfully preached and among a religious people, where many have been converted; and they think it will be much easier for them to be saved on that account. I experienced that much of my life growing up. They think salvation will just “rub off” on them somehow. They flatter themselves.
- Some sinners flatter themselves that they are already converted. They are deceived about their own salvation. They flatter themselves.
This is the wicked man; he smoothes over his own sins. He denies their realities, consequences and God’s feelings about them.