The king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the people, but take the goods for yourself."
I. THE ENEMIES OF THE CHURCH. Like Abram's -
II. THE TRIUMPH OF THE CHURCH. Like Abram's -
III. THE THANKSGIVING OF THE CHURCH. Like Abram's -
1. Due to God most high.
2. Offered through the priest of the most high God.
3. Expressed in self-consecration to the service of God. - W.
I. Abraham wished TO AVOID PLACING HIMSELF UNDER GREAT OBLIGATION TO A WORLDLY MAN.
I will not take anything that is thine, lest thou shouldst say, I have made Abram rich.
I. BY REFUSING TO INSIST UPON LAWFUL RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES.
1. When it brings them into dangerous association with the world.
2. When they might appear to countenance sin.
II. BY REFUSING TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE WORLD AS THE SOURCE OF TRUE GREATNESS. Two thoughts supported Abram in this spirit of noble independence.
1. He was chosen of God.
2. He was heir to the promises.
III. BY SHOWING THAT HE STANDS ON A DIFFERENT FOOTING AND HAS BETTER HOPES THAN THE CHILDREN OF THIS WORLD. Ready to give up his own rights, he will not prevent others from asserting theirs. He allows his young men to take their subsidence, and the allies their portion. But he himself stands upon a higher plane, and has a wider horizon. He can afford to think lightly of every earthly good. So the believer, though in the world, is not of it.
(T. H. Leale.)
II. Abraham doubtless wished TO AVOID THE APPEARANCE OF TOO INTIMATE A FELLOWSHIP WITH ONE WHO WAS AN UNRIGHTEOUS MAN.
III. Abraham probably wished TO SHOW THAT THE SERVANT OF THE MOST HIGH CAN DO GOOD WITHOUT HOPE OF WORLDLY REWARD.
IV. Abraham showed by his refusal, THAT IT IS NOT A DESIRABLE THING TO GAIN BY THE MISFORTUNES OF OTHERS.
V. It may be that Abraham wished TO SHOW THAT GOD AND A SPIRIT OF CONTENTEDNESS WERE A GOOD MAN'S TRUE RICHES.
1. The character under which he bad sworn to God: "Jehovah, the Most High God, the possessor of heaven and earth." The first of these names was that by which God was made known to Abram, and still more to his posterity. The last was that which had been just given to him by Melchizedek, and which appears to have made a strong impression on Abram's mind. By uniting them together, he in a manner acknowledged Melchizedek's God to be his God; and while reproving the king of Sodom, expressed his love to him as to a brother.
2. His having decided the matter before the king of Sodom met him, as it seems he had, implies something highly dishonourable in the character of that prince. He must have been well known to Abram as a vain, boasting, unprincipled man, or he would not have resolved in so solemn a manner to preserve himself clear from the very shadow of an obligation to him. And considering the polite and respectful manner in which it was common for this patriarch to conduct himself towards his neighbours, there must have been something highly offensive in this case to draw from him so cutting and dismaying an intimation. It is not unlikely that he had thrown out some malignant insinuations against Lot, and his old wealthy uncle, on the score of their religion. If so, Abram would feel happy in an opportunity of doing good against evil, and thus of heaping coals of fire upon his head. The reason why he would not be under the shadow of an obligation, or anything which may be construed an obligation to him, was not so much a regard to his own honour, but the honour of Him in whose name he had sworn. Abram's God has blessed him, and promised to bless him more, and make him a blessing. Let it not be said by his enemies, that with all his blessedness, it is of our substance that he is what he is. No, Abram can trust in "the possessor of heaven and earth" to provide for him, without being beholden to the king of Sodom.
3. His excepting the portion of the young men who were in league with him, shows a just sense of propriety. In giving up our own right, we are not at liberty to give away that which pertains to others connected with us. Upon the whole, this singular undertaking would raise Abram much in the estimation of the Canaanites, and might possibly procure a little more respect to Lot. It had been better in the latter, however, if he had taken this opportunity to have changed his dwelling place.
2. It beseems the children of grace to bind themselves by oath from evil.
3. Such oaths must be made to the true God only. It is part of His worship (Isaiah 65:15).
4. The being, power, height, and sufficiency of God, are enough to take of His servants from all engagements to men (ver. 22).
5. God's sanctified ones having enough in and from God, abhor to take from worldly men to His dishonour.
6. God's servants undertake no war for spoil but righteousness to redeem the oppressed.
7. Neither thread nor shoe latchet advantage will righteous souls take from the wicked upon their successes.
8. It is the believing magnanimity of the heirs of promise, not to be enriched by the world, though by right they may claim it (ver. 23).
9. Vows to God must not imply unjust things to men.
10. Liberality of some eminent saints must not prejudice the right of other men to give that away (ver. 24).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
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