After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am your shield…
What a shield God is to His people, and how effectually He can preserve us from all enemies, evils or dangers. When Protestant Holland was almost conquered by Spain, in answer to prayer, God caused the Romish foe to be driven back by the flooding of the country. Lady Huntingdon accepted an invitation to Brussels in 1786, where it was represented she might do much good. On her journey to London she was, however, so detained, that she received letters from the Continent warning her that on her arrival it was intended to put her to death as a heretic and a successful opponent of Romish ignorance and superstition. The Popish nobleman who had invited her dropped down dead on the very day her ladyship had started for London. She ever regarded her delay, etc., as a gracious interposition of Providence in her behalf. And thy exceeding great reward: —
How God is His people's great reward. —
I. THAT NOTHING BESIDES GOD CAN BE THE SAINTS' REWARD.
1. Nothing on earth can be their reward. The glistering of the world dazzles men's eyes; but, like the apples of Sodom, it doth not so much delight as delude.
2. Heaven itself is not a saint's reward: "Whom have I in heaven but Thee?" (Psalm 73:25).
II. HOW IS GOD HIS PEOPLE'S REWARD? In bestowing Himself upon them. The great blessing of the covenant is, "I am thy God." But how doth God give Himself to His people? Is not His essence incommunicable? True, the saints cannot partake of God's very essence; the riches of the Deity are too great to be received in specie. But the saints shall have all in God, that may be for their comfort: they shall partake so much of God's likeness, His love, His influence, and irradiations of His glory (1 John 3:2; John 17:26, 22), as doth astonish and fill the vessels of mercy, that they run over with joy.
III. HOW GOD COMES TO BE HIS PEOPLE'S REWARD. Through Jesus Christ; His blood, being "the blood of God," hath merited this glorious reward for them (Acts 20:28).
IV. WHEREIN THE EXCEEDING GREATNESS OF THIS REWARD CONSISTS.
1. God is "a satisfying reward." "I am God Almighty" (Genesis 17:1): the word for Almighty signifies "Him that hath sufficiency." God is a whole ocean of blessedness; which while the soul is bathing in, it cries out in a Divine ecstasy, "I have enough." Here is fulness, but no surfeit: "I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness" (Psalm 17:15).
2. God is "a suitable reward." The soul, being spiritual, must have something homogeneal and suitable to make it happy; and that is God. Light is not more suitable to the eye, nor melody to the ear, than God is to the soul.
3. God is "a pleasant reward." He is the quintessence of delight, all beauty and love. To be feeding upon the thoughts of God is delicious: "My meditation of Him shall be sweet (Psalm 104:34).
4. God is "a transcendent reward." The painter," going" to take the picture of Helena, not being able to draw her beauty to the life, drew her face covered with a veil. So, when we speak of God's excellences, we must draw a veil. He is so super eminent a reward, as that we cannot set Him forth in all His regency and magnificence.
5. God is "an infinite reward." And being infinite, these two things follow:(1) This reward cannot come to us by way of merit. Can we merit God? Can finite creatures merit an infinite reward?
(2) God being an infinite reward, there can be no defect or scantiness in it. "There is no want in that which is infinite." Some may ask, "Is God sufficient for every individual saint?" Yes; if the sun, which is but a finite creature, disperseth its light to the universe, then much more God, who is infinite, distributes glory to the whole number of the elect.
6. God is "an honourable reward." Honour is the height of men's ambition. Alas! worldly honour is but a "pleasing fancy." Honour hath oft a speedy burial: but to enjoy God is the head of honour.
7. God is "an everlasting reward." Mortality is the disgrace of all earthly things. They are in their fruition surfeiting, and in their duration dying; they are like the metal that glass is made of, which, when it shines brightest, is nearest melting: but God is an eternal reward. Eternity cannot be measured by years, jubilees, ages, nor the most slow motion of the eighth sphere. Eternity makes glory weighty: "This God is our God forever and ever" (Psalm 48:14).INFORMATION.
1. Hence it is evident, that it is lawful to look to the future reward. God is our reward; is it not lawful to look to Him?
2. If God be such an exceeding great reward, then it is Hot in vain to engage in His service.
3. See the egregious folly of such as refuse God. "Israel would none of Me" (Psalm 81:11). Is it usual to refuse rewards?
4. If God be such an immense reward, then see how little cause the saints have to fear death. Are men afraid to receive rewards? There is no way to live but by dying.EXHORTATION.
1. Believe this reward. Look not upon it as a platonic idea or fancy. Sensualists question this reward, because they do not see it: they may as well question the verity of their souls, because, being spirits, they cannot be seen. Where should our faith rest, but upon a Divine testimony?
2. If God be such an exceeding great reward, let us endeavour that He may be our reward. "God, even our own God, shall bless us" (Psalm 67:6). He who can pronounce this Shibboleth, "my God," is the happiest man alive.
3. Live every day in the contemplation of this reward. Be in the altitudes. Think what God hath "prepared for them that love Him!" O that our thoughts could ascend!
4. This may content God's people: though they have but little oil in the cruse, and their estates are almost boiled away to nothing, their great reward is yet to come. Though your pension be but small, your portion is large. If God be yours by deed of gift, this may rock your hearts quiet.
5. If God be so great a reward, let such as have an interest in Him be cheerful. God loves a sanguine complexion: cheerfulness credits religion.
6. If God be an exceeding great reward, let such as have hope in Him long for possession. Though it should not be irksome to us to stay here to do service, yet we should have a holy "longing" till the portion comes into our hand. This is a temper becoming a Christian — content to live, desirous to die (Philippians 1:23-25).
7. Let such as have God for their exceeding great reward, be living organs of God's praise. "Thou art my God, and I will praise Thee" (Psalm 118:28).CONSOLATION. Will God Himself be His people's reward? This may be as bezoar stone, to revive and comfort them.
1. In cases of losses. They have lost their livings and promotions for conscience' sake! but as long as God lives, their reward is not lost (Hebrews 10:34).
2. It is comfort in case of persecution. The saints' reward will abundantly compensate all their sufferings. TERROR TO THE WICKED. Here is a Gorgon's head to affright them. They shall have a reward, but vastly different from the godly. All the plagues in the Bible are their reward: "Destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity" (Proverbs 10:29). God is their rewarder, but not their reward. "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). They who did the devil's work, will tremble to receive their wages.
(T. Watson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.