Insufficiently Respectful

“And Noah began [to be] an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. 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. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed [be] Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed [be] the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant” (Genesis 9:20-27; underlining mine).

“Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, [and] said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it” (Psalm 35:21).

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

In Ham I see a son of scorn who, with glee, would noise abroad “the joyful sound” of his father’s faltering. This impious son would gaze and gawk, and mock his father’s shame. Ham tried to get his brothers, Japheth and Shem, to participate in his crooked and perverse celebration. But this they did shun, and thus showed themselves to be meek and dutiful sons.

Although an unbeliever, John Calvin makes some insightful comments on this (Genesis 9:22). Calvin writes (my comments interspersed between Calvin’s):

“In the meanwhile, Ham, by reproachfully laughing at his father, betrays his own depraved and malignant disposition.”

The appropriate attitude of spiritual son’s to their vulnerable (and culpable) father, is that of acutely self-aware humility (cf. Galatians 6:1).

“We know that parents, next to God, are most deeply to be reverenced; and if there were neither books nor sermons, nature itself constantly inculcates this lesson upon us. It is received by common consent, that piety towards parents is the mother of all virtues. This Ham, therefore, must have been of a wicked, perverse, and crooked disposition; since he not only took pleasure in his father’s shame, but wished to expose him to his brethren.”

I have known certain Hams to happily point out the sea monkeys in their father’s eye, while being blissfully unaware of the manatees swirling about in their own eyes.


“Yet this cause of offense they alike overcome by their magnanimity, and conceal by their modesty. Ham alone eagerly seizes the occasion of ridiculing and inveighing against his father; just as perverse men are wont to catch at occasions of offense in others, which may serve as a pretext for indulgence in sin.”

Ham, a disrespectful and malignant son. Shem and Japheth, respectful sons of magnanimity. What a stark, instructive, edifying, and educational contrasting of one son of Belial with two sons of beneficence.

The beneficent sons walk backward, covering over their father’s nakedness with a blanket of love. This son of Belial hypocritically catches at his father’s shame to serve as a pretext for wallowing and remaining in wickedness.

“Therefore, it is probable, that he thus perversely insulted his father, for the purpose of acquiring for himself the license of sinning with impunity. We see many such at this day, who most studiously pry into the faults of holy and pious men, in order that without shame they may precipitate themselves into all iniquity; they even make the faults of other men an occasion of hardening themselves into a contempt for God” (Calvin).

The ungrateful and hateful studiously watch for the righteous to fall. They perversely and pathologically exaggerate and blacken their father’s face in order to contemn the paideia of God.

The purpose of constructive or correctional criticism is to separate the wheat from the chaff; not to burn the entire thing to the ground.  The sons and daughters of Ham are corrupt, cavalier, and careless; they are utterly unable to differentiate and separate the good from the bad. They have no sense of proportion or perspective. They are not spiritual ones, they are not meek; they are full of pride, and not perceptive.