But Abram said to the king of Sodom,I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread of the thong of a sandal so that you will never be able to say, I have made Abram rich...Genesis 14:22-23
On the surface, the king of Sodom's offer seems a perfect justifiable reward. Abram had fought his great battle not, of course, on behalf of the king of Sodom but for the sake of Lot and his family. Nevertheless, the effect of his victory was of great benefit to the whole wicked city. For this reason, the king was there to meet him. A special welcoming committee had been appointed, headed by the king himself, to confer upon Abram the usual reward for a conquering hero. The wealth of Sodom was all to be Abram's!
Notice the subtlety of this temptation. It appeared to be so right and proper! Abram could well have said,
This is certainly only what I deserve, and, after all, it is the custom to do this. Who of us, standing in Abram's shoes, would not have thought like this?
But it was exactly in the apparent freedom of the gift that the peril lay. It is impossible to accept this kind of a gift without feeling an obligation to the giver. If he had been required to sign some kind of contract, he would have found it easy to say no, but to accept this gift without strings would be to make it exceedingly difficult to say no to anything later on. From that day on, the king of Sodom could say,
Abram is indebted to me. If I ever need any military help, I know where I can get it. My man is up there on the hillside. The gift was an insidious threat to the independence of the man who took orders from no one but God.
How is it Abram saw through this subtle thing so clearly and so stoutly resisted the almost overpowering pressures to which he was exposed? Before the king of Sodom met Abram with his wily offer, Abram had already met with another king, the mysterious Melchizedek. He steps suddenly out of the shadows, ministers to Abram, and just as suddenly disappears from the pages of Scripture, and we never hear another word about him until we come to Psalm 110, where David declares that the Messiah to come is made a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Who was Melchizedek? This man is a type of the eternal priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ who has no beginning nor ending of days but who forever lives to make intercession for us.
Abram would never have passed by this subtle trap unscathed had Melchizedek not met him, and, in the intimacy of that fellowship, he saw what he would not otherwise have seen—that the values on which the world sets great store are but baubles compared to the glory of fellowship with a living God, maker of heaven and earth. When the king of Sodom came, Abram could say,
Take your little toys and run back to Sodom. I want none of it. I want no man to say that he has made Abram rich. If anyone makes Abram rich, it will be God. What a victory!
Father, how gracious You are to send me that heavenly Melchizedek to strengthen me in times of peril. How dare I face the complexities of this world apart from daily fellowship in the King's valley with Him.
Eternal & temporal values are radically different, but we need continual discernment to avoid compromise. What is the only safeguard against this temptation?