Genesis 15:1 - "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield ..."

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." (Gen. 15:1)

A vision of God

This is a very important statement by God. Here the Supreme Being spoke to Abraham in a vision.

Note that "After this" refers to the events of Genesis 14, where the Abraham had to battle the four kings and their armies to protect his followers, including Lot.

The Supreme Being is reassuring Abraham. He is informing Abraham that Abraham does not have to be afraid. He can rely upon the Supreme Being and the Supreme Being will protect Abraham.

This is a central element of the relationship between Abraham and the Supreme Being. God is not a thunderous voice in the sky. He is not a vague force.

The Supreme Being is a person

God may be far, far above us in stature and power, but He is still a person. Only a person can be trusted and relied upon. Only a person can offer another person hope and reassurance.

The Supreme Being is a person that we can rely upon, trust, and love. This is expressed in the scriptures as Abraham enjoyed a loving relationship with the Supreme Being.

We see the exchange between God and Abraham as Abraham builds altars to God and prays to Him, and "called on the Name of the LORD." (Gen. 13:4)

And we see how God exchanges this relationship of love by comforting Abraham in times of fear and uncertainty.

What is a shield?

The word "shield" here is derived from the Hebrew word מגן (magen). This describes an ancient device held in the hand, also called a buckler. It was used in warfare to repel spears and swords.

God is clarifying that all Abraham needs to do is depend on the Supreme Being, and God will protect him: "Do not be afraid." We can each use God as a shield against the avalanches of the physical world.

What does He mean by "reward"

The word "reward" comes from the Hebrew word שכר (sakar) which relates to being paid or receiving something in exchange.

The Supreme Being is informing Abraham that he does not need to worry about conquering lands or winning. God is saying that the only reward Abraham has to seek is God Himself. God is Abraham's reward for Abraham's services: "I am ... your very great reward."

This clarifies the crux of this loving relationship between God and Abraham. God has asked Abraham to go out and pass on to others throughout the land the worship of the Supreme Being. This is why Abraham has built altars in various places. As a result, Abraham has had to, in some cases, fight to protect his followers. This was explained as Abraham had to fight off the four kings in order to get back his follower, Lot.

(The word used to describe Lot was בן (ben) - according to the lexicon, this can mean son or it can mean follower or member of an order. The reason why this word was translated to nephew was because other verses explain that Abraham did not have any children at the time. If he did not have children, the more appropriate translation would be follower.)

God comforts Abraham

After facing up with these four kings and their armies, Abraham was left somewhat fearful. But the Supreme Being comforts Abraham, explaining that all Abraham needs is his relationship with the Supreme Being.

This is the sum and substance of the lessons of scripture. As we examine all the lives of those loving servants (often referred to as prophets) of God discussed throughout the Old and New Testaments, we find this recurring theme: To become dependent upon God, and to become pleasing to the Supreme Being. In order to do this, we must give Him our heart. We must rely upon Him. We must try to please Him with our lives. And our reward for our efforts to please Him is Himself: A loving relationship with the Supreme Being.

This is the goal of life and the clear teaching of all scripture. Despite the various mistranslations and misinterpretations of the Biblical scriptures over the centuries, this clear meaning still shines through for those who seek their true meaning.