Abram's Choices: Wisdom for Us


In Genesis 14:17-24, we read about Abram’s pursuit of five kings from the north because they had taken all the people and possessions from the area around Sodom, which is where Abram’s nephew Lot was living. Abram was part of an alliance, and that alliance set off from (what is known today as) southern Israel, tracked down the five kings all the way up to northern Israel, attacked them, pursued them even further north, and recovered all of the people and possessions from Sodom. Abram did not lack courage. He pursued a course of action that he knew had to pursue. He chose courage and action. 

As Abram was returning home, he was met in the Valley of Kings near Salem (modern-day Jerusalem) by two kings, the king of Salem and the king of Sodom. The king of Salem was named Melchizedek, and Melchizedek said two things about the situation: (1) Abram is blessed by God Most High, and (2) God Most High is to be praised, since it was he who allowed Abram to defeat those five kings and to recover the people and possessions which had been taken from Sodom. Abram then gave a tenth of all the possessions he had recovered from the pursuit to Melchizedek. This giving of a tenth signified Abram’s agreement that it was God Most High who gave Abram the victory over his enemies. Abram chose to honor God Most High for his success after Abram was confronted with that truth.

Abram had every right over the booty. The once-captured people could have returned to their homes while Abram kept all of the possessions for himself. The second king, king of Sodom, told Abram that he could keep the possessions, but demanded the return of the people. Abram reacted sharply and strongly, claiming for himself none of the possessions. We read his reaction in Gen. 14:22-24: 

But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand in an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread or sandal strap or anything that belongs to you, so you can never say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ I will take nothing except what the servants have eaten. But as for the share of the men who came with me—Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre—they can take their share.”

There is one clue as to why Abram reacted so strongly and sharply, taking none of the possessions for himself. In Genesis 13:13 (CSB), we read, 

“Now the men of Sodom were evil, sinning immensely against the Lord.”

Abram chose not to take possessions that came from a town ruled by a king who allowed people to be so evil, sinning greatly against the Lord. Abram chose not to financially gain from a situation in which he had a right to do so.

Abram chose courage and action; he chose to honor God as sovereign; he chose not to associate with or benefit from people who dishonored God. In these days, when the culture wants us either to condone the actions of all people or face the wrath of a cancel culture mob, we need to follow Abram’s example. We need to endure the difficulty our Savior said we would face if we associate with him.

“Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.”  ~ John 15:20


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