Genesis 9:18-21 (NIV) 18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the earth. 20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.
On verse 21: Noah gets drunk and passes out naked inside his tent, apparently in a way that others could see him from the outside. Keep in mind that during Noah’s time nakedness was associated with shame. This was an embarrassing moment for Noah. It’s also proof that while Noah may have been found righteous in his generation compared to the people of his time (Genesis 6:9 and Genesis 7:1), Noah wasn’t perfect and needed the covering and protection of God and others. In fact, the covering that Noah’s sons Shem and Japheth give Noah foreshadows the covering that Jesus would humbly give us by dying on the cross for our sins. Jesus covers our shame with the garment of His righteousness and love.
Genesis 9:22-23 (NIV) 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father’s nakedness.
On verses 22-23: Notice the two very different responses from Noah’s sons Shem and Japheth on one hand and Noah’s third son Ham on the other hand. When Ham found out embarrassing information about his father, he did nothing except tell others about it. He exposed his father’s shame all the more (v22). When Shem and Japheth found out about this same incident, with great humility, walking backwards into his tent so as not to embarrass him more, they covered up their father’s nakedness (v23).
What can we learn from this? The different responses from Ham on one hand and Shem and Japheth on the other illustrate for us the difference between a fault finder who gossips and a problem solver who loves. When you hear embarrassing information about someone else, do you exacerbate the problem by gossiping about it to others and making that person look bad, or do you lovingly protect that person and privately give that person the help they need? Guess which way God wants us to treat others, including our God-given leaders, especially when they are in their weakest, most vulnerable state?
Have you ever bad mouthed or gossiped about your God-given leaders or others in your life? If so it’s time to repent and become a problem solver who loves instead of a fault finder who gossips.
The fact is that all of us, including our God-given leaders, have weaknesses. We are all sinners in need of God’s mercy. Whereas the term “cover up” can have a bad connotation in certain contexts, the kind of “cover up” that Shem and Japheth were engaged in was a good, humble and honourable thing to do. They didn’t deny their leader’s weakness. They simply refused to dwell on it and make the situation worse than it already was. They bore with their leader in love. Thankfully this was an isolated incident that didn’t embarrass or hurt anyone other than Noah himself. In such a case, it was about Noah’s sons bearing with their father in love and going out of their way to protect him, privately giving him the help he needed.
Genesis 9:24-27 (NIV) 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. 27 May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave.”
On verses 24-27: When Noah finds out what his youngest son Ham had done, Noah curses not Ham but Ham’s son Canaan, saying that he will be the lowest of slaves to his brothers (v25). In contrast, Noah blesses Japheth and Shem and their “territory” (v26-27). Indeed that’s exactly what would happen, as Shem and Japheth’s descendants would end up taking over the territory of Canaan from Ham’s descendants, the Canaanites. It goes to show that when we are fault finders who gossip instead of problem solvers who love, when we dishonour our God-given leaders rather than honouring and protecting them, the ones who lose out the most are those who come after us, for we are setting for them the wrong example and forfeiting blessings that God would otherwise have given to them.
Genesis 9:28-29 (NIV) 28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 Altogether, Noah lived 950 years, and then he died.
On verses 28-29: Verse 28 reminds me that there is life after the flood. You may have gone through what feels like a flood of loss and destruction. Know that the God of hope, Jesus Christ, is still here and He will help you get up and keep on living after the flood has passed.
Heavenly Father, whether it is my leaders, my family or anyone else, may I not be a fault finder who gossips like Ham, but a problem solver who loves like Shem and Japheth. Thank You that by Your mercy, power and grace, there is life after the flood. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!