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 shoelatchet, 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.
Abram is not going to let the king of Sodom make himself Abram’s benefactor. He will owe nothing to this king. This is a good lesson, not to enrich oneself by the kindness of someone or something evil. One might make a sermon about ‘generosity’ of the Devil and what the consequences of accepting a reward at his hands might be. Even if the king of Sodom, most likely a high priest of his own god, had good intentions, Abram was not going to put himself in the position of having to be grateful to him.
A reward carried with it some important considerations. To accept a reward from a king implied an understanding of loyalty to that king.
Job 7:2 As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work:
As much as this king of Sodom would have liked to have someone as wealthy and powerful as Abram beholden to him, perhaps even out of fear, Abram, the friend of God, would not permit such a thing.
The mercy and grace of God will be Abram’s reward in the very next chapter. He needed no bounty from a human king, especially one who worshipped devils in all likelihood. In the American business culture of Christianity it does not matter who rewards me as long as I get one. The reward is the object and the character and condition of the granter of the reward is irrelevant. This is characteristic of even the most conservative churches whose preachers announce from the pulpit how wicked and Godless the government is, all the while accepting tax breaks and any benefit they or their congregation can get from that same wicked government, accepting rewards from the king of Sodom. Abram would be appalled.
Three confederates only are mentioned but in this method of writing referring to the leadership can also imply men following. Clearly you don’t believe that only the kings mentioned earlier who attacked Sodom and Gomorrah were present but that they had an army with them. Common sense tells us that the reference to Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre does not mean that they, too, would not have had their own servants armed and battle ready.