18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. 19 The people who were scattered over the earth came from Noah’s three sons. 20 Noah was a man who farmed the land. He decided to plant a field that produced grapes for making wine. 21 When he drank some of the wine, it made him drunk. Then he lay down inside his tent without any clothes on. 22 Ham saw his father naked. Then Ham, the father of Canaan, went outside and told his two brothers. 23 But Shem and Japheth picked up a piece of clothing and laid it across their shoulders. Then they walked backward into the tent. They covered their father’s body. They turned their faces away because they didn’t want to see their father naked. 24 Then Noah woke up from his sleep that was caused by the wine. He found out what his youngest son had done to him. 25 He said, “May a curse be put on Canaan! He will be the lowest of slaves to his brothers.” 26 Noah also said, “May the Lord, the God of Shem, be praised. May Canaan be the slave of Shem. 27 May God add land to Japheth’s territory. May Japheth live in the tents of Shem. And may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.” 28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 Noah lived a total of 950 years. And then he died.
I wonder what was going through Ham’s mind?
Whether he meant to bring shame to his father by telling his brothers about what dad got up to or not, I’m not sure. But his brothers immediately treated this seriously and went to considerable lengths to cover the mistake of their father.
All too often we hear phrases such as I didn’t mean any harm, or no one got hurt (at least physically) or it seemed funny at the time. It’s made worse today with social media but what people really need is friends who defend and “cover” their mistakes, even our mistakes.
At the time, I doubt Ham thought there would be consequences to his actions, but they really do highlight character flaws and a lack of integrity as well as disrespect to his father Noah.
Noah’s declaration “May Canaan be cursed!” shows that the effects of sin are not just limited to the offender, but Ham modelled to his children and set a pattern of behaviour that influenced many generations that followed.
But what about me, what behaviour do I want to pass on to my children, what do I want to be known for?
Sure, it might seem trivial, harmless or even funny, to take advantage of a person’s mistakes, but my first action really needs to be one of respect and honour, for my actions or even inaction, are a model to those around me and even passed on to my kids.
Jesus, help me to see others as you see them, to love them as you love me, to be an example of one who covers a mistake with love and grace.
Written by Andrew Martin