Posted by: rcottrill | June 13, 2011

Yield Not to Temptation

Words: Horatio Richmond Palmer (b. Apr. 26, 1834; d. Nov. 15, 1907)
Music: Horatio Richmond Palmer

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Temptation is a Bible word we’ve discussed before in this blog, but some things about it bear repeating. The same Hebrew and Greek words of the original have two possible meanings that are quite opposite:

¤ In a negative sense, they can refer to the temptation or seduction to sin
¤ In a positive sense, they can refer to testing and proving the value of something

Usually, the context (the surrounding passage) makes it clear which of these is meant. Modern versions often differentiate between the two applications, even though they are translations of the same word. Comparing the King James Version and the New International Version, we have an example of this in James chapter 1.

¤ First, James talks about the troubles and trials we face in life (vs. 2). “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (KJV). For this verse, the NIV has: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” We can rejoice in the fact that it’s in our trials that God proves His faithfulness, and develops our character.

¤ Later in the chapter, James refers to temptation to sin (vs. 13). “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man” (KJV). Here is the NIV: “When tempted, no-one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.”

Of these two meanings, it’s particularly times of temptation to do wrong that Horatio Palmer is dealing with.

“Ask the Saviour to help you,” says his refrain. And that is biblical. The petition is found in what is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer. “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:13). It’s a request that God will help us to avoid tempting circumstances, and protect us from the attacks of the devil.

Recognizing the danger of peer pressure in this regard, Palmer warns, “Shun evil companions” (CH-2). God’s Word says, “Do not be deceived: evil company corrupts good habits” (I Cor. 15:33). If we choose the right friends, that can help us avoid tempting circumstances.

The Lord has promised to help us in times of temptation. “For in that He [Christ] Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Heb. 2:18). “We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations” (II Pet. 2:9).

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (I Cor. 10:13).

Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin;
Each victory will help you some other to win;
Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue,
Look ever to Jesus, He will carry you through.

Ask the Saviour to help you,
Comfort, strengthen and keep you;
He is willing to aid you,
He will carry you through.

I have often pondered what the author means by the line, “Each victory will help you some other to win.” Is that some other victory? Or some other person? Likely, Palmer has the former in mind. Each victory strengthens our faith and develops our character, equipping us to better resist temptation in the future. But it is also true that our victories may encourage others to seek the help of the Lord too.

When Christians falter and fail, as we sometimes do, we are told to confess our sins, and claim God’s full forgiveness (I Jn. 1:9). Then we should take up our walk with the Lord, trusting Him to give us strength. In the words of Horatio Palmer, “Through faith we shall conquer, though often cast down” (CH-3).

1) What are some ways, or some tools, that can strengthen us to resist temptation?

2) What is God’s purpose in allowing testing times to come our way? In what ways can a test (a time of trial) also become a temptation?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. One of the best ways we can resist temptation is by being accountable to others. The right company can make all the difference in the world when we are tempted to sin.

    • Agreed. And that is one of the functions of the local church. We are a community of believers, accountable to and for one another (I Cor. 12:25).

  2. Please, what motivated Horatio Palmer to write this song?

    • Check out the link to another article here, and you’ll see all we know about that.


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