After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great."Genesis 15:1(NASB)
Abram is given a wonderful vision from the Lord in this verse, Who promised, "I am a shield to you. Your reward shall be very great." It is in this chapter that Abram enters into the most far-reaching covenant, with the Lord. However, to appreciate the greater significance of this verse it is necessary to understand the context of the whole passage, for we read "after these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great."
The chronological format of Genesis dictates that the first verse of chapter 15 flows from the previous chapters - after these things. Earlier, Abram's nephew, Lot, had chosen to live in the fertile land on the far side of the Jordan. He settled in the wicked city of Sodom and was taken captive, by invaders from the north, along with the rest of his family and other citizens of the region.
With God's help, Abram rescued Lot, together with all who had been carried away from Sodom, and returned them to their homeland. On their return, Abram met Melchizedek, the king of Salem and priest of the most high God, who blessed Abram and brought him bread and wine.
Abram gave Melchizedek a tithe of the goods he had rescued, which were rightfully his. However, when the wicked king of Sodom met Abram, he "magnanimously" suggested that Abram keep all the rescued goods and possessions - but give him the people. The king's "generous" gesture was designed to make Abram obligated to him. He wanted to compromise Abram's reliance on the Lord and maintain a hold over his soul, but God's servant recognised this deceitful offer and responded: I will not take from you a thread, even to a shoe-latchet. I will not take anything that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, "I have made Abram rich".
Abram strongly rejected the king's back-handed offer, refusing to accept so much as a shoe-lace to tie up his sandal strap, and then we read.. "after these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you. Your reward shall be very great."
Abram did not need to fear the future, for God would not allow his faithful servant to miss out on the reward that was rightfully his, and promised him something infinitely better than the worldly spoils from Sodom, which he rescued from the pagan invaders!
The Lord promised to be Abram's "shield". He pledged to protect and guard him from destruction - spirit, soul and body. He also promised Abram a very great "reward". Scripture gives witness that God's promises to his servant have been fulfilled in part - but are continuing to be fulfilled. God's reward to Abram has eternal consequences and is continuing to be pressed down, shaken together and running over!
But the reward God gives to all His faithful servants is over and above all that we can ask or think. His gracious generosity causes the world's most fabulous wealth and most highly prized possessions to be rendered as insignificant and inconsequential, by comparison with the joy that is laid up for us in heavenly places. To know the Lord is our Shield and Defender, should fill us our hearts with joy and rejoicing, for to be shielded by the almighty God and Saviour is the safest place to be.
Let us never forget that we have a faithful Father Whose promises to His people are all "yes" and "amen" in Christ Jesus our Lord, and should cause our hearts to rejoice in the Lord always, and be glad in Him for evermore.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the life and witness of Abraham and for the trust he demonstrated, when he refused to accept any reward from the wicked king of Sodom, but relied on You to be his Shield and Defender. Thank You we have nothing to fear in this evil world and that You supply all that we need according to Your riches in glory. Thank You that those who trust in You will never be disappointed and that the reward You promise to all Your children is over and above all that we could ask or think. May we live as a faithful witness to Your goodness and grace and never compromise the gospel of Christ, in Whose name we pray, AMEN.