Page:An Exposition of the Old and New Testament (1828) vol 1.djvu/128

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speaks his absolute perfections in himself, and his sovereign dominion over all the creatures; he is King of kings. Note, It will greatly help both our faith and our reverence in prayer, to eye God as the most high God, and to call him so. (2.) Possessor of heaven and earth, that is, rightful Owner, and sovereign Lord, of all the creatures; because he made them. This bespeaks him a great God, and greatly to be praised, Ps. 24. 1, and them a happy people who have an interest in his favour and love. 2. He blessed God for Abram, v. 20, and blessed be the most high God. Note, (1.) In all our prayers, we must praise God, and join Hallelujahs with all our Hosannahs. These are the spiritual sacrifices we must offer up daily, and upon particular occasions. (2.) God, as the most high God, must have the glory of all our victories, Exod. 17. 15.   1 Sam. 7. 10, 12.   Judg. 5. 1, 2.   2 Chron. 20. 21. In them he shows himself higher than our enemies, Exod. 18. 11, and higher than we; for without him we could do nothing. (3.) We ought to give thanks for others' mercies as for our own; triumphing with them that triumph. (4.) Jesus Christ, our great High-Priest, is the Mediator both of our prayers and praises, and not only offers up our's, but his own for us. See Luke 10. 21.

IV. What was done to him. Abram gave him tithes of all, that is, of the spoils, Heb. 7. 4. This may be looked upon, 1. As a gratuity presented to Melchizedek, by way of return for his tokens of respect. Note, They that receive kindness, should show kindness. Gratitude is one of nature's laws. 2. As an offering vowed and dedicated to the most high God, and therefore put into the hands of Melchizedek his priest. Note, (1.) When we have received some signal mercy from God, it is very fit that we should express our thankfulness by some special act of pious charity. God must always have his dues out of our substance; especially when, by any particular providence, he has either preserved or increased it to us. (2.) That the tenth of our increase is a very fit proportion to be set apart for the honour of God, and the service of his sanctuary. (3.) That Jesus Christ, our great Melchizedek, is to have homage done him, and to be humbly acknowledged by every one of us as our King and Priest; and not only the tithe of all, but all we have, must be surrendered and given up to him.

21. And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. 22. And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, 23. That I will not take from a thread even to a shoe-latchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: 24. Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.

We have here an account of what passed between Abram and the king of Sodom, who succeeded him that fell in the battle, v. 10, and thought himself obliged to do this honour to Abram, in return for the good services he had done him.

Here is,

I. The king of Sodom's grateful offer to Abram, v. 21, Give me the soul, and take thou the substance: so the Hebrew reads it. Here he fairly begs the persons, but as freely bestows the goods on Abram. Note, 1. Where a right is dubious and divided, it is wisdom to compound the matter by mutual concessions rather than to contend. The king of Sodom had an original right both to the persons and to the goods, and it would bear a debate whether Abram's acquired right by rescue would supersede his title, and extinguish it; but, to prevent all quarrels, the king of Sodom makes this fair proposal. 2. Gratitude teaches us to recompense to the utmost of our power those that have undergone fatigues, run hazards, and been at expense, for our service and benefit. Who goes a warfare at his own charges? 1 Cor. 9. 7. Soldiers purchase their pay dearer than any labourers, and are well worthy of it, because they expose their lives.

II. Abram's generous refusal of this offer. He not only resigned the persons to him, who, being delivered out of the hand of their enemies, ought to have served Abram, but he restored all the goods too. He would not take from a thread to a shoe-latchet, not the least thing that had ever belonged to the king of Sodom or any of his. Note, A lively faith enables a man to look upon the wealth of this world with a holy contempt, 1 John 5. 4. What are all the ornaments and delights of sense to one that has God and heaven ever in his eye? He resolves even to a thread and a shoe-latchet; for a tender conscience fears offending in a small matter.

Now, 1. Abram ratifies this resolution with a solemn oath. I have lift up mine hand to the Lord, that I will not take any thing, v. 22. Here observe, (1.) The titles he gives to God, The most high God, the Possessor of heaven and earth, the same that Melchizedek had just now used, v. 19. Note, It is good to learn of others how to order our speech concerning God, and to imitate those who speak well in divine things. This improvement we are to make of the conversation of devout good men, we must learn to speak after them. (2.) The ceremony used in this oath, I have lift up my hand. In religious swearing we appeal to God's knowledge of our truth and sincerity, and imprecate his wrath if we swear falsely; the lifting up of the hand is very significant and expressive of both. (3.) The matter of the oath, namely, that he would not take any reward from the king of Sodom, was lawful, but what he was not antecedently obliged to. [1.] Probably, Abram vowed, before he went to the battle, that if God would give him success, he would, for the glory of God, and the credit of his profession, so far deny himself and his own right, as to take nothing of the spoils to himself. Note, The vows we have made when we are in pursuit of a mercy, must be carefully and conscientiously kept when we have obtained the mercy, though they were made against our interest. A citizen of Zion, if he has sworn, whether it be to God or man, though it prove to his own hurt, yet he changeth not, Ps. 15. 4. Or, [2. ] Perhaps Abram, now when he saw cause to refuse the offer made him, at the same time confirmed his refusal with this oath, to prevent further importunity. Note, First, There may be good reason sometimes why we should debar ourselves of that which is our undoubted right, as St. Paul, 1 Cor. 8. 13.—9. 12. Secondly, That strong resolutions are of good use to put by the force of temptations.

2. He backs his refusal with a good reason. Lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich; which would reflect reproach, (1.) Upon the promise and covenant of God, as if they would not have enriched Abram without the spoils of Sodom. And, (2.) Upon the piety and charity of Abram, as if all he had in his eye, when he undertook that hazardous expedition, was to enrich himself. Note, [1.] We must be very careful that we give not occasion to others to say things which they ought not. [2. ] The people of God must, for their credit's sake, take