[Gen 9:20-29 KJV] 20 And Noah began [to be] an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: 21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. 23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid [it] upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces [were] backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness. 24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. 25 And he said, Cursed [be] Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. 26 And he said, Blessed [be] the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. 27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. 28 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. 29 And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.
What Does the Mirror Tell You?
None of us have the magical mirror that the wicked stepmother of Snow White had, but there are other ways for us to learn things. The verses provided above, from Genesis 9:20 -29, are examples of another way for us to learn. The Scripture tells us that Noah:
- planted a vineyard
- drank the wine
- was drunken
- was uncovered within his tent
Noah had found himself some joy, but his joy was temporal because it came from the wine, not from the eternal source of joy; God. He was “uncovered in his tent,” he was naked…I would venture to say both physically and spiritually. Is what he did really that bad? He was, after all, in his tent.
Dad’s Hammered! So Wasted that He’s Laying there Naked as a Jay-bird…
His son, Ham, entered the tent:
- saw his father’s nakedness
- told his two brothers outside
So, here we have Ham. He goes into his father’s tent and there’s dear old dad, drunk, and naked. Rather than covering his father and allowing him to sleep off his stupor, Ham runs outside to his brothers and says something along the lines of, “Y’all come here! Dad’s hammered! He’s so wasted that he’s laying there naked as a jay-bird for all who enter to see.” Ham essentially shamed his father by calling his brothers over to see him in this state. Ham didn’t see anything wrong with going to tell his brothers…they are “in the family.”
See No Evil
Shem and Japheth, the brothers of Ham had a different reaction to what has happened. Rather than shame or ridicule their father, they:
- took a garment and laid it upon both of their shoulders
- walked backward into the tent
- covered the nakedness of their father while their faces were still backward, turned away from their father
- they saw NOT their father’s nakedness.
All three of these sons had choices to make. They each had to choose how to react to their father’s condition. One brother couldn’t wait to jump on the gossip wagon and tell of his father’s nakedness; but the other two brothers, they wisely chose not to join their brother. They took a garment and covered their father without looking at his nakedness at all. They did things in a manner that would not shame their father. In other words, not only did Shem and Japheth not physically see their father’s shameful state, they also did not perceive his guilt or disgrace. They protected their father by showing him love and compassion.
Life Application from the Baal Shem Tov’s Story
Your fellow is your mirror,” the Baal Shem Tov would say to his disciples. “If your own face is clean, the image you perceive will also be flawless. But should you look upon your fellow-man and see a blemish, it is your own imperfection that you are encountering – you are being shown what it is that you must correct within yourself.” Otherwise, to what purpose would God cause you to see your fellow’s degradation?
I have been involved in the church for many years. There have been many times I have heard “prayer request” regarding an action someone had taken. Did you know your prayer request can be gossip? It can if you are airing someone’s shame to the entire church. Not all things need to be revealed as we see from this example of Noah and his sons. Also, if we see someone doing something that WE deem “sinful,” we may be passing judgment on that person. We should not pass judgment on them because we do not know their heart. We should look in a mirror and ask God if this element is in our lives and pray for his mercy on us and the other individual.
We have a choice to make. What will our reaction be? That choice is ours! Is our reaction bringing this person life or kicking them while they are down? Will you be a Ham or choose, like Shem and Japheth, to cover your brother or sister? Cover them with the garment of prayer and protect yourself by covering yourself in prayer also, especially since we know that our brothers and sisters in Christ are our mirror.
Blessed are you, LORD God, Father of the Universe. Thank you for Your Word which is instruction for us. Thank you for loving us enough to provide these examples for us to follow in our own lives. Lord, please forgive us for the times we have done as Ham, and brought shame to our brothers or sisters rather than using them as a mirror into our own flaws. Forgive, Lord, for the times we have brought shame to those we love under the pretense of it being a prayer request. I ask you now to help us make wise choices. May our words and actions always bring LIFE to the soul’s of those we encounter, not shame and death. May we always cover one another in the garment of prayer and praise, not shame. In Jesus name. Amen.