After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”
God's covenant with Abram is preliminary to all our ways of understanding God's covenant with Israel. It is the way to understand the outworkings of redemption. It is unilateral. God simply makes and keeps His promises and as the story unfolds we see God's faithfulness to His Word even as Abram struggles to live out its meaning.
God promised to make of Abram and Sarai an uncountable nation of people. He promised to give Abram's descendents the land of Canaan. But of great importance is the first promise of relationship. God promised to protect Abram. God promised to reward Abram. There is love in the covenants that God makes.
We protect those we cherish. With God as his shield, Abram and his descendents would experience grace and prosperity by the hand of a loving God. And history has shown this to be the case. Jews and Arabs (Abram's descendents all) are numerous and at the center of the world stage even now.
God rewards in love. The promises that God made Abram were gifts that Abrah did not earn. He got them because of God's love. In fact, Abram failed... repeatedly. He lied about his wife, he tried to pass his servant off as his heir, and he fathered a child with another Egyptian servant who was not the promised heir God decreed. Yet even in Abram's failure, God was lovingly faithful to keep His promise.