14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.
15 He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.
Lot is a study in spiritual decline, while Abram is a study in God’s blessing on obedience. Lot has moved from living as a herdsman outside of Sodom to living in the town with the reputation as the original “Sin City”. When the politics of the day lead to war and Sodom is besieged and quickly captured, in the custom of the day Lot and his family are led away along with all the spoils of war. And Abram shows that he has grown from a simple herdsman to a man expert in politics and military action.
Abram now has a household security retinue of 318 “trained men” who were evidently skilled in fighting matters. With his private army, Abram practices classic military strategy with success: He fights at night, splits his forces in what is doubtless a pincer move, and defeats the coalition of forces that raided Sodom. He then chases them off north of Canaan in order to remove the threat from the land. Not bad for an old shepherd!
Lot should have learned his lesson and gotten himself out of Sodom. Really this was his first rescue from the wicked town, but he did not even get the point. He went back to Sodom, to comfort, to commerce, and to compromise with the ways of sinful worldlings for the sake of convenience.
Abram went back to his tents, believing God’s promise and refusing to even take a coin in compensation from the princes of Sodom and the towns of the plain because he knew it was God who was going to keep blessing him and not the system around him. His faith grew as Lot’s continued to decline. No wonder Abram is such a shining example of faith to us in the New Testament. Paul singles him out in Romans 4 as the example of faith justifying us. Hebrews 11 makes much of the old patriarch who believed God more than trusting in wealth or power or prestige. And his simple faith brought him all three.