When Abram defeated Chedorlaomer, he returns home victorious. On his way, he is met by the King of Sodom and the priest Melchizedek. We talked about Melchizedek yesterday, so today, let’s look at Abram’s conversation with the King of Sodom.
Please read Genesis 14:17-18.
Notice that the King of Sodom was first to meet Abram, but, in deference to Melchizedek, he didn’t start speaking until after the priest had blessed Abram and received his tithe. Now, let’s look at his conversation with Abram.
Please read Genesis 14:21-24.
The King of Sodom appears to be so grateful for what Abram has done that he only wishes to have his people back. Maybe these were servants or subjects. Maybe these were even family members. It appears that he is so happy to have the people back that he urges Abram to keep everything else. But things aren’t always what they seem…
If Abram were to keep all of the plunder, there are two bad outcomes that could happen. One is that Abram could be accused of plundering the King of Sodom, just like Chedorlaomer actually did. Can you imagine Lot having to live near Sodom while all of his neighbors are angry that Lot’s uncle has their favorite chine dishes, or necklaces, or whatever? Surely this would only lead to contention and strife.
The second, and more likely outcome would be that God would continue to bless Abram, but people would see the initial generosity of the King of Sodom, and, instead of giving glory to God for Abram’s wealth, they would give glory to the King of Sodom for his generosity. This too was no good because it robs God of glory.
Now, this isn’t to say that people today should never accept a gift. Even Abram had previously accepted gifts from Pharaoh in Egypt (see 12:16, 20). But we should be discerning. Winning the lottery doesn’t always lead to happiness. Finding buried treasure usually leads to being pursued by pirates. Accepting a gift from the mob usually constricts you to later repayment of the favor.
Abram didn’t want anything to rob God of glory, so he politely refused to take anything other than that which his men have already eaten. What’s more, Abram refused to speak for his allies, but allowed them to accept whatever gifts they chose. This surely must have ingratiated him even more with his neighbors!
In all of this, Abram demonstrates to us the importance of being content with what we have. Many of us dream of winning the lottery one day, but the truth is that it really wouldn’t make us happy. More money just means more problems. The things that we idolize and seek after usually don’t end up giving us the joy that we thought they would. Let’s learn from Abram what brings true joy: being content with what God has given us and trusting that He will continue to provide.