Blessed Be Abram
“And Melchizedek… blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’” (Gen. 14-18-20)
Following Chedorlaomer’s defeat, the ruler of Sodom and the king of Salem come out to meet the victorious Abram. Today’s passage focuses on the patriarch’s encounter with Melchizedek, a figure vital to biblical theology, despite our little knowledge of him.
There are several things we should note about Melchizedek. First, his name is related to the Hebrew words for king (melek) and righteousness (zedek), alluding to his holy character and fidelity to God. Also, Salem is an ancient name for the city of Jerusalem and is itself connected to the Hebrew term for peace (shalom). All of this prepares the reader to receive Melchizedek favorably, and his encounter with Abram bears out this evaluation. Furthermore, these truths are picked up in the New Testament use of today’s passage, and we will discuss that fact more next week.
Note also how Melchizedek incorporates the offices of prophet, priest, and king in his life. He is “king of Salem” and “priest of God Most High” (Gen. 14:18). Clearly, he speaks the Lord’s word to Abram when he blesses the patriarch (vv. 19–20a), inferring his prophetic role. This three-fold office is also evident in David’s kingship, and we will consider this development in due time.
Even though Abram had done little for Melchizedek (his city-state is not among the ones ransacked by Chedorlaomer, see vv. 5–12), the king of Salem comes out to offer the patriarch and his men refreshment (v. 18). Bread and wine, the food and drink Melchizedek sets forth, were staples of the royal diet (1 Sam. 16:20), thus showing the king’s generosity and God’s faithfulness to fulfill His promise to bless Abram (Gen. 12:1-3).
Melchizedek’s blessing confirms that the Lord was indeed on Abram’s side, the patriarch’s reception of it directly identifying the one, true God with Melchizedek’s Lord (14:19–20). Abram signals his acceptance of the blessing by favoring the king of Salem with a tithe (v. 20b), providing an example to later generations that supporting those servants who equip and bless God’s people is a part of true worship (Num. 18; 1 Tim. 5:17-18).
Abram’s tithe to the king of Salem is illustrative of what the people of God must do for the kingdom. Today, review your finances and look at how you schedule your time. Consider giving more of your time and money to the work of the church. Also, think of an individual who has blessed you with friendship, guidance, or some kind of material benefit. Make sure that you find a way to express your gratitude to that person if you have not done so already.
Passages for Further Study
Eccl. 11:1, Mal. 3:6-12, Luke 21:1-4, 2 Cor. 9
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