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.”
But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” – Genesis 15:1-3
This set of verses begins one of the most important chapters in the whole of Scripture. This is the first time “the word of the Lord.” The distinction of this is relevant to the context of God’s covenant with Abram and the theophany that accompanies it (Gen 15:17). This is also one of the few times that Abram is said to see God in a “vision.”
It is here that God pronouncing Himself as Abram’s “shield” or “defense” which is a constant theme of the psalmists (Psa 3:3; 7:10; 18:2; etc.). But God is also His “reward” or literally his “wage.” This reward is of grace and not because of what Abram had done (Rom 4:4 – the same word for “reward” is used by the LXX).
Abram’s response is one of interest. God Himself is the shield and reward. Why would he reply with a question of children? In his mind, God as gift would only stop with him. The value of the gift was one generation. Its true value would surpass generations. And this the Lord has in mind to perform for Abram (Gen 17:7-8).