And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. Genesis 9:22-23 ESV
Noah was drunk. In his compromised condition, he stripped and lay naked in his tent, fully exposed. Ham went in and looked upon his father, took in the scene in a way that was immoral, and went to report it to his brothers. It wasn’t that Ham just glanced and left. Several translations present a Hebraic picture of looking upon someone with lust and desire and then relishing the exposure. Noah’s two other sons were honorable. After hearing the news, they approached their father with their backs turned toward him and covered up his nakedness.
There can be something evil bent in the heart of a child to glory in a parent’s weakness. If the parent has been a poor one and there is unresolved hurt, a child, no matter the age, might rejoice when the power and grandeur of a parent crumbles. The need for revenge takes over. Though I am surprised that Ham (after being saved from worldwide destruction by the faith of his father), is not humble. Neither is he reverent!
I have no idea what Ham’s issue with his father was but at that moment, his own heart was revealed. Noah had not been a perfect father, but he was a man of unparalleled faith. Like David, he had a heart bent toward God and had proven it over the course of a century.
Honoring parents is one of the conditional foundational requirements for God’s blessing. He created the family and anything that pollutes the beauty of family relationships hurts the heart of the Creator. Nothing is more tragic than parents who won’t forgive children and children who refuse to forgive their parents.
I remember a line from a movie that struck me. A son in his forties is having a heated discussion with his mother. He raises his voice to make a point. The mother says, “Son, who taught you to be this cruel?” His answer, “You did, mother. You did!” In this hotbed of anger, each is looking for the vulnerability of the other to rise and strike.
Parents aren’t perfect. Some try their best and fail. Others don’t pretend to try and obviously fail. Should all parents be forgiven? Yes. To fail to forgive is to hurt, not only the parent but the ones who carry the anger. I teach my children how to treat me by how they hear me talk about my own parents. Respect and honor are godly legacies I can pass on. Unfortunately, disrespect and dishonor can just as easily become hallmarks of family trees.
Your forgiveness covered my sins. Can I not, in remembrance of Your mercy, cover my parent’s shortcomings? Drive the point home. Amen