In Genesis 14:17-24, Abram returns home victorious from a battle. He meets two kings with vastly different philosophies. They force Abram to make a choice as to whom he will form an alliance with.
By way of background, the Jordan River Valley was conquered and subject to Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, for 12 years (1-4). A coalition of five kings rebelled in year 13 (4). Chedorlaomer and his allies put down the rebellion in year 14 and carried off the captives and plunder, including Abram’s nephew, Lot (5-12).
One fugitive escapes and comes to Abram (13). Abram organizes his forces of 318 men and chases the marauders 240 miles and defeats them. Abram returns home with the captures and spoils of war (14-16).
On the way home, Abram is met by two kings, Bera, king of Sodom, and Melchizedek, king of Salem (17-24). Their names give Abram a hint of what is coming and how to respond. “Bera” means “gift,” while “Sodom” means “burning.” Bera is a wicked king in a worldly city. “Melchizedek” means “king of righteousness” while “Salem” means “peace.” Melchizedek is a priest of El Elyon, the Most High God. Abram rejects Bera and worships with Melchizedek.
Choose your alliances wisely. If you accept the gift from the world, you will get scorched. If you accept the gift of righteousness, you will receive peace. It’s a pretty clear choice when you spell it out.