Genesis 14:17-24 and Heather has provided the notes.
As Abram returns victorious, passing near to Jerusalem, he is met by two kings, Melchizedek from Salem (Jerusalem) and the king of Sodom, both kings of their own smallish territories, but both very different in the way in which they thought and ruled. We’ve already read about Sodom that ‘the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord’ (13:13) and it seems fair to assume that the king of Sodom must have been aware of it at the very least and allowed it to go on. Melchizedek on the other hand is described as ‘priest of God Most High’ and his name means ‘king of righteousness’.
Melchizedek brought out food and drink, showing hospitality and friendship to Abram, blessed Abram in God’s name and attributed his victory to God’s help. The king of Sodom, however, negotiating with Abram for the return of his subjects, merely makes rather a brusque business offer to Abram, offering him what amounted to enormous wealth.
Here is another test of faith for Abram – will he be tempted by what is offered by the king of Sodom, or will he recognise in Melchizedek’s blessing the voice of God himself?
Abram responds by giving Melchizedek a tenth of all the plunder but then refuses to accept anything – ‘not even the thread or thong of a sandal’ from the king of Sodom, in case he should in any way be obligated or compromised for the future (v23). I like the way Abram repeats Melchizedek’s description of God in his response to the king of Sodom, just adding the title of ‘the Lord’, thus making his personal relationship with God clear (v22). He wants the king of Sodom to be in no doubt as to where he stands and why he is not accepting anything.
What great discernment Abram shows here as he steers clear of any possible pitfalls for the future! He chooses not to associate with wickedness, but rather seems to identify with Melchizedek, almost as we today instinctively feel akin to other believers we come across because we both love the Lord. (The New Testament sees Melchizedek as a ‘priest-king and therefore a ‘type’ of Christ – see Hebrews 5-7 for more information).
Like Abram, we are continually faced with decisions and choices in our lives. We need to make sure that we too, like Abram, are growing in our faith, and growing closer to God, so that we make decisions that are helpful for us in our Christian lives rather than ones which hinder our spiritual walk with God. Let’s ask God today for the gift of discernment to help us in this.