Now I want to look at some examples of yielding, beginning with 1 Kings 3. In the first part of this chapter, God appears to Solomon in a dream and says, “Ask what I shall give thee” (verse 5). That would be a pretty difficult situation to find yourself in, when God suddenly says, “Now what do you want? I’ll give it to you.” You will remember that Solomon did not ask for riches; he did not ask for honor; he did not ask for the lives of his enemies; he asked for wisdom. He said, “Give [me] an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad” (1 Kings 3:9). God was pleased with this choice and said,
Because you have asked this thing,… I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor (verses 11,13).
Shortly after this event, there came the case of the two women who were harlots, living together in one house. Each of them had given birth to a baby, and each had her baby in bed with her. In the middle of the night one of the women rolled over on top of her own baby and killed it. In the morning there were two mothers and only one baby, and each of the mothers wanted the baby that was alive. Both the real mother and the mother whose baby had died claimed the baby.
So the case was brought before Solomon: these two women in court, and one baby. Solomon heard the case out. The real mother said, “It’s my baby.” The other woman said, “No, it’s my baby.” So Solomon said, “Well, there’s only one thing to do. Bring me a sword.” When the sword came, he said, “I’ll cut the baby in two, and each of you can have half.” The woman to whom the baby did not belong said, “That’s right, cut the baby in half and give me my half.” But the real mother did not want to see her baby die, and she said, “No, give her the baby; let it live.” And by this, Solomon identified the real mother. As a result, his wisdom became famous throughout Israel.
The lesson is very simple. If the baby is really yours, rather than see it die, you will let the other woman have it. That is the real test. Many times in Christian service and ministry, a man brings forth something that is his, but somebody else contests it and claims it, and there’s an argument and a fight. I could go through the history of the last thirty years and name man after man and case after case. That’s when the real test comes. If it’s your child, would you rather see the other woman have it than see it be killed?
There are times when we are put to that test. Do I want to lay claim to my ministry and my success; do I want to establish my reputation? Or am I prepared to let somebody else have all that I worked for, all that I achieved, all that I prayed through? It depends on whether you love yourself more than the baby, or the baby more than yourself.
Next time you’re faced with that situation, you will be able to measure how real your love is. If you’re willing to give it away, you love it. If you claim half of it, you don’t love it.
Look for a moment at the story of Abraham in the thirteenth chapter of Genesis. Abraham had started out from Ur of the Chaldees in obedience to the word of God, but not in full obedience. We see this from the twelfth chapter of Genesis. There God said,
Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house,to a land that I will show you. (verse 1)
But Abraham did not fully obey God, because he took two extra persons with him – his father and his nephew. He was not authorized to take either. As long as he had his father with him, he got only halfway. He got to Haran, which is halfway between Ur and Canaan. He couldn’t get any farther until his father died.
Many of us are like that. God says, “Come out; leave everything behind; I’ll show you your inheritance.” But we want to take “Daddy” along. Daddy may be a promising career or a well-paid job or a denominational affiliation or a pension scheme. It may be one of many things. At any rate, God says, “As long as you take Daddy, you’ll get only halfway.” That’s how it was with Abraham. He couldn’t get into Canaan as long as he had his father with him. Stephen pointed this out in his speech to the Jewish council in Acts 7. He said, “After his father died, he moved into the promised land.” (See verse 4.)
But, even so, Abraham still had a problem – his nephew, Lot. Lot never should have been there.
It wasn’t long before both Abraham and Lot prospered. They both acquired so much cattle and so many goods that they could no longer live side by side as they had been doing. There was continual strife between their herdsmen. We read what happened next in Genesis 13, beginning at verse 7:
And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land.So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.” (Genesis 13:7-9)
Abraham was the senior; he was the man whom God had called; he was the man to whom the inheritance belonged. But he stood back and said, “Lot, you make your choice. Whatever you choose, you can have.”
And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other. Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord. (Genesis 13:10-13)
Now, continue reading about what happened after Lot was separated from Abraham:
And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are – northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. (verses 14-15)
That’s how God will deal with us, too. As long as you hold on and say, “That’s mine; I’m not letting go,” you won’t see what God has for you. It’s the yielding spirit that receives the inheritance – not the grasping spirit or the grabbing spirit. As long as you continue to say, “It’s mine, and you can’t have it; God gave it to me,” you won’t have what God has for you. You have to yield.
My wife Lydia often reminded me of an incident that happened in Palestine during World War II, before we were married. She was living at that time in a children’s home in a town named Ramallah, which is about ten miles north of Jerusalem. Though most of her ministry was with children, a revival broke out among the Arab women in the city. It was a sovereign work of God, but my wife was the instrument that God used. Those Arab women would come in off the street unconverted, to be saved, delivered from evil spirits, and baptized in the Holy Spirit – all in the one encounter. The work was flourishing and growing, a testimony to the Lord’s grace.
But then, a missionary who lived in Jerusalem claimed the work as his. He sent up an Arab worker and said, “This is our work. We had a worker in this town before you came.” In actual fact, that particular worker had accomplished nothing of any lasting value, whereas my wife understood and loved those women and was loved by them. I bear testimony to this because, twenty-five years later, we went back to that village, my wife and I together, and when these women heard that my wife was there, they came running into the street to embrace her. They had not forgotten her, twenty-five years later!
Be that as it may, my wife was confronted with this claim, and with the strength of a man against a single woman. So she said what Abraham said: “All right, you choose. And if you decide to go to the left, I’ll go to the right.” And the other missionary said, “Well, this is our work: we’ll take it.”
So my wife said to the Arab women, “From now on, we’re having no meetings. The meetings are to be held at such and such a place; you go there and be faithful and support the work.” After a year or two, the work died completely, because the worker who was sent to take it over had no real call from God. It was not his work. But my wife had won her own personal victory by yielding.
Meanwhile, within a few months, British and American soldiers serving in the countries of the Middle East began to find their way to that little home in Ramallah. They came there seeking God and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In the next three or four years, scores and scores of American and British servicemen found God and were baptized in the Holy Spirit in that little home for children.
As a matter of fact, I myself was with the British forces in the Middle East at that time. I was stationed in the Sudan, which is almost right in the center of Africa. One day I met another Christian soldier who said, “If you want a real blessing, there’s a little children’s home ten miles north of Jerusalem – you should go there!” So, as soon as my turn came, I took two weeks’ leave and journeyed all the way up, or rather down, the Nile to Cairo, and from there to Jerusalem. Finally, I ended up in that little children’s home, and the blessing I got was greater than I had been expecting – it was my wife!
But the point of the story is this: By traditions and customs of the Middle East, those Arab women would never have been allowed in a place where British and American servicemen were coming. Had my wife held on to the women, the soldiers would never have come. But, when we yield, then we get promoted. Many of those men, myself included, today are in full-time ministry all over the world. They are missionaries, pastors, and so on – some in the United States, some in Britain, some in South Africa.
The lesson is this: You have to be willing to let go. You may say, “It’s unfair; it’s unreasonable; it’s unjust!” So what? God arranged it. He’s in control. That’s faith!
This article is excerpted from The Grace of Yielding, Chapter 4, by Derek Prince, first published in 1977 © by Christian Growth Ministries Publishing, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA.
Top illustaration, The Wisdom of Solomon (biblical scene from 1 Kings 3:16-28), artwork by James Tissot
Derek Prince (1915–2003) was born in India of British parents. Educated as a scholar of Greek and Latin at Eton College and Cambridge University, England, he held a Fellowship in Ancient and Modern Philosophy at King’s College. He also studied Hebrew and Aramaic, at Cambridge University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. While serving with the British army in World War II, he began to study the Bible and experienced a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. Out of this encounter he formed two conclusions: first, that Jesus Christ is alive; second, that the Bible is a true, relevant, up-to-date book. These conclusions altered the whole course of his life, which he then devoted to studying and teaching the Bible.