Chapter 31 Our Shield And Reward

Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward (Genesis 15:1).

It is a most blessed thing to have a true sense of the greatness of God. In chapter 13, Abram, as his name then was, had separated himself from Lot. Lot had set his face toward Sodom, and his ultimate residence in that lawless place brought him a sea of troubles. Abram dwelt at Mamre, meaning “vigor,” which place was in Hebron, meaning “fellowship.” These names suggest Abram’s spiritual vigor and bespeak the strength of a corporate and armed household to support him. It was with such that he was able to rescue Lot after his having been taken captive in the battle of “four kings with five” (Genesis 14:9-16).

After the rescue of Lot, Abram met the priest Melchizedek—a notable type of Christ as the king-priest of his people. From Melchizedek Abram received bread and wine for his sustenance and refreshment, which points to our Lord’s holy remembrance feast. With Melchizedek’s blessing, Abram refused to take anything from the king of Sodom. He was wise enough to discern the wiles of this evil king who would have him trade persons for goods. His reply to the king was full of dignity and wisdom.

“After these things” the Lord graciously relieved Abram of any lurking fears concerning the future, saying, “Fear not, Abram,” and God gave the reason why he was not to do so.

The Lord His Shield

A shield is a defense against hostile powers, and God Himself was to be this to His servant. Hostile foes were still in the land. The powerful king of Elam was not dead nor had he ceased his hostility. Abram could still expect assault. The tide of battle would roll again. Abram’s army was small—three hundred and eighteen. The enemy would rise again to wound and captivate. But the Lord Himself was to be Abram’s shield, which guaranteed his safety and security.

The lesson for us is plain and clear. As believers we live in a hostile world. The hands of Satan are red with the blood of millions of our race. He is the very essence of hate and “a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). He enslaves, then revels in man’s misery. His wiles are subtle. His ambushes are skillfully laid. His darts are fiery and pitiless. He strikes at any age—from the tenderest child to the weakest aged one. But the Lord Jesus is our Shield and Defender. Against Him all is powerless. He is the comfort of His saints. His office, as such, is made of nothing but love. His shield is lined with love, and behind it believers are safe indeed.

The Lord His Exceeding Great Reward

Abram had been called in the beginning to relinquish his own country and the kindred of his father’s idolatrous house. But he was no loser. At the rescue of Lot, the king of Sodom had offered a king’s treasury. “Take the goods to thyself,” was Abram’s noble reply to a tempting offer. In the way of faith every relinquishment is wealth and every loss is gain.

“I am … thy exceeding great reward.” The emphasis is, “I, Jehovah, am!” At this time Abram was not the possessor of a single foot of land which had been promised him. But God was more than land, and God Himself was to be his possession and heritage. Canaan was a gift to Abram, but the Lord Himself was his reward—the portion of His people. All that God is in His greatness, His majesty, His eminence, His excellence, and His glory, is set out in His beloved Son.

What a privilege it is to know Him in a world of superstition and idolatry and overwhelming wickedness! Is that not reward enough for believing? What are the world’s vanities—its empty shows, its defiling pleasures, its sordid wit, its lying principles? What is such vanity compared to the possession of Christ, the Lord? All that is of the earth is earthy, and all can be taken away. What is health, or wealth, or fame, or pleasure, compared to God Himself? There are some who are glad when their barns are filled with grain, their stalls with cattle, their houses with luxury, their bankrolls with plenty; but what is such trivia compared to the most blessed God?

It is the Lord Jesus Christ who is the final expression of “the exceeding great reward.” He is the portion of all true believers, and even Abram saw His day and was glad (John 8:56). Is it not reward enough, and far beyond our comprehension, to have Him, who died, sustained a curse, and wrought righteousness on our behalf? His death is ours that we may never die. His curse is ours to redeem us from the curse of the law. His blood is ours to wash our souls whiter than snow. His righteousness is ours that we may stand spotless before the Father’s face. His life is ours that we may live forever. His Heaven is ours that we may be with Him throughout the endless ages of eternity.

Father! in Thine eternal power,
Thy grace, Thy majesty divine,
No soul, in this weak mortal hour,
Can grasp the glory that is Thine!

And yet Thy love is not unknown
To those who have the Saviour seen;
Nor strange to those He calls His own—
Pilgrims in scenes where He has been.

And here we walk as sons, through grace,
A Father’s love our present joy,
Find, in the brightness of Thy Face,
A rest no sorrows can destroy.

J. N. Darby