Before you read: A king named Kedorlaomer unites with three other kings and attacks five other kingdoms including Sodom. They win, and carry off the prisoners. Abram’s nephew Lot was in Sodom and is taken prisoner. Abram is not part of any of these kingdoms.
Read Genesis 14:11-24
“Abram … called out the 318 trained men born in his household.”
Men aren’t born trained.
This is a glimpse into the life and practices of Abram. He is wealthy: with many, many servants. He makes sure his men are trained: well trained, apparently, because they are able to beat four kings and their armies – which five other kings together could not do.
Abram is a force to be reckoned with.
He swoops in like a conquering hero, rescues Lot and his neighbours, and then meets the mysterious Melchizedek.
Melchizedek is called the ‘King of Salem’ but there is no place named Salem in the Bible. Later, in Psalms, we’ll be told that Salem means Peace, and that God’s tent is there, but that’s the only other reference to it in the whole story (other than ones that mention Melchizedek and this event).
So this man’s kingship is mysterious; but what especially fascinates me is that he is a ‘priest of God most high’, and the first person in Abram’s story to know this God who keeps visiting Abram.
He calls God the “Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.” I imagine that when Abram hears these words, something in him responds, ‘Yes! That’s the God who’s made me the promises.’ How wonderful to finally meet someone else who knows this God. And just to be sure, listen to what Melchizedek says, “Blessed be Abram by God most high.”
There it is again, the promise of blessing, as if God just can’t say it enough.
Then Abram does a strange thing. He gives Melchizedek ten percent of all the plunder he’s just won. Why? What about this man inspires an act so almost like worship? In fact, it is a kind of worship: a tribute, a gift given to a conqueror – or a god.
In sharp contrast, Abram gives only disdain to the King of Sodom. Look at how he separates himself, “I will take nothing from you.” The King of Sodom had a lot to offer, but Abram has just been with Melchizedek and the promises of God are fresh in his mind, so he says no.
He is beginning to want only what God will give him.