Page:An Exposition of the Old and New Testament (1828) vol 1.djvu/127

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GENESIS, XIV.

but truly valiant. The righteous is bold as a lion. The true christian is the true hero. 2. There was a great deal of policy in the management of it. Abram was no stranger to the stratagems of war; he divided himself, as Gideon did his little army, Judg. 7. 16, that he might come upon the enemy from several quarters at once, and so make his few seem a great many; he made his attack by night, that he might surprise them. Note, Honest policy is a good friend both to our safety, and to our usefulness. The serpent's head (provided it be nothing akin to the old serpent) may well become a good christian's body, especially if it have a dove's eye in it, Matt. 10. 16.

V. His success was very considerable, v. 15, 16. He defeated his enemies, and rescued his friends; and we do not find that he sustained any less. Note, Those that venture in a good cause, with a good heart, are under the special protection of a good God, and have reason to hope for a good issue. Again, It is all one with the Lord to save by many or by few, 1 Sam. 14. 6. Observe,

1. He rescued his kinsman; twice here he is called his brother Lot; the remembrance of the relation that was between them, both by nature and grace, made him forget the little quarrel that had been between them, in which Lot had by no means acted well towards Abram. Justly might Abram have upbraided Lot with his folly in quarrelling with him and removing from him, and have told him that he was well enough served, he might have known when he was well off: but, in the charitable breast of pious Abram, it is all forgiven and forgotten; and he takes this opportunity to give a real proof of the sincerity of his reconciliation. Note, (1.) We ought to be ready, whenever it is in the power of our hands, to succour and relieve those that are in distress, especially our relations and friends. A brother is born for adversity, Prov. 17. 17. A friend in need is a friend indeed. (2.) Though others have been wanting in their duty to us, yet we must not therefore deny our duty to them. Some have said that they can more easily forgive their enemies than their friends: but we shall see ourselves obliged to forgive both, if we consider, not only that our God, when we were enemies, reconciled us, but also that he passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage, Mic. 7. 18.

2. He rescued the rest of the captives, for Lot's sake; though they were strangers to him, and such as he was under no obligation to at all; nay, though they were Sodomites, sinners before the Lord exceedingly, and though, probably, he might have recovered Lot alone by ransom; yet he brought back all the women and the people, and their goods, v. 16. Note, As we have opportunity, we must do good to all men. Our charity must be extensive, as opportunity offers itself. Wherever God gives life, we must not grudge the help we can give to support it. God does good to the just and unjust, and so must we, Matt. 5. 45. This victory which Abram obtained over the kings, the prophet seems to refer to, Isa. 41. 2, Who raised up the righteous man from the east, and made him rule over kings? And some suggest that as before, he had a title to this land by grant, so now, by conquest.

17. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him, after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale. 18. And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, Possessor of heaven and earth: 20. And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

This paragraph begins with the mention of the respect which the king of Sodom paid to Abram, at his return from the slaughter of the kings; but before a particular account is given of that, the story of Melchizedek is briefly related. Concerning whom, observe,

I. Who he was. He was king of Salem and priest of the most high God; and other glorious things are said of him, Heb. 7. 1, &c.   1. The rabbins, and most of our rabbinical writers, conclude that Melchizedek was Shem the son of Noah, who was king and priest to those that descended from him, according to the patriarchal model. But this is not at all probable; for why should his name be changed? And how came he to settle in Canaan? 2. Many christian writers have thought that this was an appearance of the Son of God himself, our Lord Jesus, known to Abram, at this time, by this name, as, afterward, Hagar called him by another name, ch. 16. 13. He appeared to him as a righteous king, owning a righteous cause, and giving peace. It is hard to think that any mere man should be said to be without father, without mother, and without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life, Heb. 7. 3. It is witnessed of Melchizedek, that he liveth, and that he abideth a priest continually, v. 3, 8; nay, v. 13, 14, the apostle makes him of whom these things are spoken, to be our Lord who sprang out of Judah. It is likewise hard to think that any mere man should, at this time, be greater than Abram in the things of God, and that Christ should be a priest after the order of any mere man, and that any human priesthood should so far excel that of Aaron as it is certain that Melchizedek's did. 3. The most received opinion is, that Melchizedek was a Canaanite prince, that reigned in Salem, and kept up the true religion there; but if so, why he should occur here only in all the story of Abram, why Abram should have altars of his own, and not attend the altars of his neighbour Melchizedek who was greater than he, seems unaccountable. Mr. Gregory of Oxford tells us, that the Arabic Catena, which he builds much upon the authority of, gives this account of Melchizedek: That he was the son of Heraclim, the sen of Peleg, the son of Eber, and that his mother's name was Salathiel, the daughter of Gomer, the son of Japheth, the son of Noah.

II. What he did. 1. He brought forth bread and wine, for the refreshment of Abram and his soldiers, and in congratulation of their victory. This he did as a king, teaching us to do good and to communicate, and to be given to hospitality, according to our ability; and representing the spiritual provisions of strength and comfort which Christ has laid up for us in the covenant of grace for our refreshment, when we are wearied with our spiritual conflicts. 2. As priest of the most high God, he blessed Abram, which we may suppose a greater refreshment to Abram than his bread and wine were. Thus God, having raised up his son Jesus, has sent him to bless us, as one having authority; and these whom he blesses, are blessed indeed. Christ went to heaven when he was blessing his disciples, Luke 24. 51, for that is it which he ever lives to do.

III. What he said, v. 19, 20. Two things were said by him, 1. He blessed Abram from God, v. 19, Blessed be Abram, blessed of the most high God. Observe the titles he here gives to God, which are very glorious: (1.) The most high God, which be--