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 whole 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. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked 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 naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked. 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, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. 27 May God extend 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.
“Good news! The flood has dissipated and God has promised never to flood the earth like this ever again – let’s celebrate with a drink!”
The narrative in Genesis moves so quickly from hope and promise to pathetic indecency. No one knows for sure exactly what happened here. Some biblical scholars speculate that Ham was mocking his father, others that Ham performed an act of lust against his drunk father. Whatever the case, what strikes me is the honourable way Shem and Japheth behave. Not only do they not go along with Ham’s behaviour, but they deliberately ensure that they do not even show a hint of mocking or any immorality against their father.
When I am playing soccer or football, I try to score goals or tries for my team. I don’t risk passing the ball around recklessly in front of my own goal or try line. I don’t laugh with teammates while the opposition has the ball and is trying to score. I am 100% devoted to my team. In the same way, God is calling me to be 100% dedicated to righteousness, 100% committed to his team. In that context, it makes sense to go the extra distance to make sure I avoid immorality.
Lord, give me such a focus for doing good that I take extra steps to ensure I don’t stumble into sin. Keep me in step with you so that Satan does not catch me off guard. Amen.
Written by Andrew Mellor