Let’s read Genesis 9:20-21: “And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent” (NKJV). These verses are simple and plain; Noah was guilty of the sins of drunkenness and nakedness. These two sins often go together, as we see in Habakkuk 2:15, “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, pressing him to your bottle, Even to make him drunk, that you may look on his nakedness.” Many have tried to excuse Noah’s drunkenness by saying:

*He didn’t know what effect the wine would have on him.

*He was getting old and wasn’t able to control the wine’s effect as he once could.

*He was trying to forget the painful experiences he went through during the flood.

Other reasons have also been cited, but whatever caused Noah to drink too much wine (which led to drunkenness and nakedness) is irrelevant, for he was responsible for his own actions and God records this shameful event to teach us this truth.

What makes this sad event even more solemn is the fact that God had just given Noah dominion over the new earth. We see this in Genesis 9:1-2: “So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand.” In addition God also placed the reins of government into Noah’s hands. Verses 3-6 say, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you…but you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning…Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.” What a responsibility Noah had to govern the earth! And yet “he failed to govern himself!” By drinking too much wine he allowed himself to fall into a state where he had no self-control, and this in turn led to other bitter consequences.

Verse 22 tells us: “And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.” We don’t know why Ham entered his father’s tent but when he did he discovered his father’s nakedness. What should Ham have done? Proverbs 10:12 declares, “Love covers all sins” and thus Ham should have “covered his father’s nakedness” and by doing so he would have also “covered his father’s sin.” But instead he runs with a gossiping tongue to his two brothers and exposes his father’s sin and seeks to expose his naked body as well. Thankfully we read, in verse 23, “But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.” By honoring their father in this way they displayed their love for him and they illustrated the truth of Proverbs 12:16, “A prudent man covers shame.”

Again, Noah’s conduct was disgraceful and it brought upon him dishonor from his son Ham and later he we read, “So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him. Then he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brethren” (verses 24-25). When Noah learned of what Ham had done he was made to utter a prophecy. In short, Ham’s actions would turn out to be a “family trait” and this character of immoral conduct in Canaan would be punished with servitude to the families of Shem and Japheth. How tragic to see that the “new earth,” that held so much promise to Noah and his family, was quickly being polluted by sin!  (215.10)  (DO)