Thy Shield and Exceeding Great Reward
Malcolm Horlock, Cardiff, Wales
A sample page from Pictures and Parables, see p. 20.
This dual picture must have provided great comfort for Abraham at a critical time in his life. Violence and bloodshed had been a feature of human behaviour since two separate killings in Genesis 4, but chapter 14 contains the first record of war in the Bible. With courage, Abraham had marshalled his servants to pursue the triumphant confederacy that had kidnapped his nephew Lot, and in a night attack he had gained the advantage. When the dust of battle had settled, and he was restoring the captives and their property, the king of Sodom made him a lucrative offer that he promptly rejected, but with the whole incident now history, and the excitement over, Abraham had time to think, and evidently, he was anxious.
‘Fear not’. Why the ‘fear not’ if he was not afraid? What if the vanquished army should regroup? He faced the reality that he was no general, only a nomadic herdsman and thus vulnerable! ‘Fear not, Abram, I am thy shield’. The promise of divine protection calmed his mind and there is not a word of objection to it; he was confident that he was safe. I am ‘thy exceeding great reward’. Here was compensation far in excess of the spurned wealth of Sodom, but now he does have a query. ‘What wilt thou give me?’ v. 2. Childlessness rankled; what was the point of increased wealth if it was to be bequeathed to a servant? At this point God again graciously promised a son who would be his heir.
Perhaps because of present circumstances you are as apprehensive as Abraham was. Let this first ‘fear not’ of the Bible be an encouragement. Your anxiety may be far different from Abraham’s, but God is saying, ‘I am thy shield’. The people of God are never exempt from the dangers that affect mankind in general, but there is the assurance that, ‘The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him’, Ps. 34. 7. We have no guarantee of safety from physical harm, but let us rejoice that precious blood shields us from eternal judgment.
There is also rich reward for those who like Abraham reject the prospect of material advantage for the sake of maintaining their integrity, and to avoid being obliged to a wicked world.