Sunday, May 3, 2015

Ammon's Flattery

27 Therefore, as Ammon and the servants of the king were driving forth their flocks to this place of water, behold, a certain number of the Lamanites, who had been with their flocks to water, stood and scattered the flocks of Ammon and the servants of the king, and they scattered them insomuch that they fled many ways.

 28 Now the servants of the king began to murmur, saying: Now the king will slay us, as he has our brethren because their flocks were scattered by the wickedness of these men. And they began to weep exceedingly, saying: Behold, our flocks are scattered already.
 29 Now they wept because of the fear of being slain. Now when Ammon saw this his heart was swollen within him with joy; for, said he, I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants, or the power which is in me, in restoring these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them tobelieve in my words.
 30 And now, these were the thoughts of Ammon, when he saw the afflictions of those whom he termed to be his brethren.
 31 And it came to pass that he flattered them by his words, saying: My brethren, be of good cheer and let us go in search of the flocks, and we will gather them together and bring them back unto the place of water; and thus we will preserve the flocks unto the king and he will not slay us. - Alma 17:27-31
Last night when reading with my kids, the highlighted words stuck out off the pages for me.  Ammon was a righteous servant, and protected the king's flocks.  When it came time to win over the hearts of the Lamanite servants whom he was with, he flattered them by his words.

Typically I think of the word "flattery" as meaning that one is complimenting another person, almost to excess.  Google defines it as "excessive and insincere praise, especially that given to further one's own interests."  

Ammon was on the Lord's errand, essentially telling them to not fear, that he's got this.  Essentially, he gave the Lamanites a pep talk here.  He knew his father, King Mosiah, had the promise that God would not let him be harmed while he was away.  He knew he wouldn't fail in what was ahead.  But why did Mormon use the word flattery here, when on many occasions in the Book of Mormon, flattery is a derogatory term, associated with ulterior motives and associated with pride? 

Are we flattering others, when we encourage them in the various challenges of their lives?  When we give pep talks?  Is there anything derogatory there?  

I know it's far stretch I'm making here.  But just something that made me stop and wonder.  Does this have any connection with Jesus telling his disciples not to call him "good"?  (Matt. 19:17)  Certainly interesting food for thought, especially when pride is an overt message of the Book of Mormon.  

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