For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings…
I. MELCHISEDEC WAS "KING OF SALEM."
1. Salem was certainly in Canaan — the land where Melchisedec and Abraham met.
(1) It is not a matter of course that Canaan was already wholly given up to idolatry and crime; and therefore Melchisedec may have been himself a Canaanite, and may also have found a body of worshippers of the true God among whom he could discharge his functions.
(2) Even if Canaan was more idolatrous than we have sufficient reason to believe that it now was, Melchisedec, who was, perhaps, of the Japhetian stock, may have been raised up by Heaven as "a light in a dark place," and a harbinger and representative of the future ingathering of the Gentiles to Christ.
2. Two places of the name of Salem are mentioned in the Old Testament. The one is Salem in the land of Shechem (Genesis 33:18) — the same, perhaps, as John 3:23. The other is Jerusalem itself (Psalm 76:1, 2).
(1) The situation of the great metropolis of Palestine was one likely to be early fixed upon for a town in the colonisation of the land.
(2) That point lay near to the route which Abraham may be supposed to have taken on his homeward way "from the slaughter of the kings."(3) If Jerusalem was the place of which Melchisedec was king, he was thus the more strikingly representative of Christ (Psalm 2:6)."
3. It is certainly in respect chiefly of the priesthood that Melchisedec is compared to Christ. But, considering the object and design of the present specification of particulars, it must be understood that the royalty of the former has a typical, or at least a figurative, application to the latter. With Salem, both in the literal and figurative application of the name, Christ as King has especially to do. It was through Jerusalem that, "in the days of His flesh," He rode in lowly, but royal stateliness" (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1-11). To Israel and her great metropolis was Messiah promised as a Sovereign Prince, ere ever the Magi came to welcome the regal visitor; and as He was, in His birth, saluted as Israel's King (Matthew 2:1-6), so, over His cross on the heights of Salem, the unchangeable inscription bore that He was "King of the Jews" (John 19:19-22). And there is another Zion on which His throne is set — another Salem in which He reigns — the Zion, the Salem, of the Church. Amidst hostile arms and quaking dynasties, "let the children of Zion be joyful in their King."
II. MELCHISEDEC WAS "PRIEST OF THE MOST HIGH GOD."
1. The phrase "of the most high God" serves two ends.
(1) It contra-distinguishes Melchisedec and his priesthood from priests of " the gods many and lords many" of Paganism, and from the functions, often gross and cruel, which these performed.
(2) It suggests the solemnity and importance of the sacerdotal work which Melchisedec performed, and the reverence and awe with which not only ministers, but private believers, should maintain intercourse with that glorious One into whose presence they are called to enter, and whose business they are called to do.
2. The priesthood of the King of Salem, in all probability, comprehended the two functions of sacrifice and intercession.
III. MELCHISEDEC "MET ABRAHAM RETURNING FROM THE SLAUGHTER OF THE KINGS AND BLESSED HIM." To a spiritual warfare we have all been called; and while Christ is the Captain of the host, the better Abraham leading on His followers to battle and to victory, He, as the anointed Priest, the better Melchizedec, blesses His conquering, and even His struggling, troops. With His priestly hands extended, in generous benediction, over His first disciples, He left the world. In the same attitude, as it were, He stilt is standing, as Be looks down from His heavenly throne on the earthly charge which He loves so well. The good which on their behalf He seeks, it is His own prerogative and office to bestow. Nor can it be withheld. What is wanted for the fight — wisdom, strength, courage, hope — He d, lights, when His soldier looks to Him in faith and earnestness, to give. At length comes victory. Nor is that promise obsolete (Revelation 3:21).
IV. TO MELCHISEDEC ABRAHAM GAVE A TENTH PART OF ALL THE SPOILS. The contribution of gold and treasures to the cause of the kingdom of Messiah is one of the facts recorded respecting Him in Hebrew prophecy (Psalm 72:10, 15). Since the day when the Magi cast their gold, and frankincense, and myrrh at His blessed feet, thousands and tens of thousands have laid a like tribute on His altar. Christ deserves, and Christianity needs, it all. That, independently of any money of ours, He could work successfully is, of course, in some sense true. But, in unswerving wisdom and condescending mercy, He chooses to work by means; and among the appointed means is money. By ministers and missionaries, who are dependent on money for support — by Bibles and other practical and precious books, which must be printed and circulated at the cost of money — by places of worship, which it requires money to erect — and by other ordinances and institutions, which it is for money to establish and maintain — Christ upholds His cause and extends His kingdom.
V. MELCHISEDEC WAS BY INTERPRETATION "KING OF RIGHTEOUSNESS AND KING OF PEACE." This statement refers to the import of the names Melchisedec and Salem. Melchi means, king; Sedec, righteousness; and Salem, peace. It is probable that Melchisedec was a righteous and pacific king. At any rate, the name he bore, and that of the city where he dwelt, involved the ideas of righteousness and peace. And it is here distinctly intimated that, in this respect, he was fitted to represent the character and government of Christ. Christ in very deed is "King of righteousness." His soul, how pure! His life, how undefiled! His laws, how just! His administration, how upright! The issues and outgoings of His sufferings and His glory, of His humiliation on the earth and His triumphs in the heavens, how suffused and fraught with righteousness! Nor is He less truly "King of peace." His personal ministry was neither the earthquake nor the thunder, but the "still, small voice." Peace He bequeathed to His disciples as a legacy of love (John 14:27). He "made peace through the blood of His cross" (Colossians 1:20). His gospel breathes of peace. They who believe it enter into peace. Theirs is peace with God; theirs, too, is peace with man; and a " peace which passeth understanding" keeps their ,"hearts and minds by Christ Jesus" Under the sceptre of Messiah, the wars which so long have wrought desolations in the earth shall pass away
VI. MELCHISEDEC WAS "WITHOUT FATHER, WITHOUT MOTHER, WITHOUT DESCENT," &c. By the series of particulars it is manifestly meant to intimate that the parents, the ancestry, the birth, and the death, of this royal priest are all unrecorded in the sacred narrative — that, in this respect, there is a remarkable difference between him and the priests of the house of Levi — and that, in so far as the record is concerned, he comes before us as the priest of unlimited existence, who had no predecessor and no successor in the sacred line. He was thus, it is still further intended to suggest, a meet representative of that " great high-priest" who, as God, had no mother — as man, had no human father — as Divine, never began to be, and never died — as Mediator, carries on His priesthood still, interceding for believers in the heavens, even as, on earth, He made atonement for their sins, and wrought out redemption for their souls.
(A. S. Patterson.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;