Genesis 9:20
- into the Shemitic, Hamitic, and Japhetic families. The fall of Noah was through wine; not, indeed, a forbidden product of the earth, but, like the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, representing a tremendous responsi

Noah began to be an husbandman and he planted a vineyard; and he drank of the wine and was drunken.

1. Increased temptations to sensual indulgence.

2. It exercises a tyranny over us.

3. It tends to make us satisfied with the present.

II. THE SPREADING POWER OF EVIL. He who once allows evil to gain the mastery over him, cannot tell to what degrading depths he may descend.



1. The sins of others give occasion for fresh sins in ourselves.

2. The sins of others may give occasion for some high moral action.

V. THE APPARENT DEPENDENCE OF PROPHECY UPON THE ACCIDENTS OF HUMAN CONDUCT. The words of Noah take too wide a range and are too awful in their import to warrant the interpretation that they were the expression of a private feeling. They are a sketch of the future history of the world. The language is prophetic of the fate of nations. It may seem strange that so important an utterance should arise out of the accident of one man's transgression. The same account, too, must be given of the greater part of the structure of Scripture. Some portions were written at the request of private persons, some to refute certain heresies which had sprung up in the Church. Many of the books in the New Testament owe their origin to the needs and disorders of the time. But this does not destroy the authority or Divine origin of the Scripture, for the following reasons:

1. The Bible has thus imparted to it a human character and interest.

2. The Bible is unfolded by an inner law.

3. The Bible shows the advance of history towards an end.

(T. H. Leale.)


1. That sin-stricken humanity cannot reach perfection in the present life.

2. That a man is not invariably influenced by society. Noah stood firm as a rock against the multitude, but now in his own tent falls.

3. That witnessing the greatest judgments, and experiencing the tenderest mercies of God, will not preserve us from sin.


1. This act is an index of a debased mind.

2. It shows an indifference as to the means of gratifying his sinful propensity.

3. The punishment is degrading to himself and to his descendants.


1. The commendation of their own conscience.

2. The blessing of an aged father.

3. The approbation of God.


Noah's sin brings before us two facts about sin. First, that the smaller temptations are often the most effectual. The man who is invulnerable on the field of battle amidst declared and strong ememies, falls an easy prey to the assassin in his own home. The temptations Noah had before known were mainly from without; he now learnt that those from within are more serious. Many of us find it comparatively easy to carry clean hands before the public, or to demean ourselves with tolerable seemliness in circumstances where the temptation may be very strong but is also very patent; but how careless are we often in our domestic life, and how little strain do we put upon ourselves in the company of those whom we can trust. What petulance and irritability, what angry and slanderous words, what sensuality and indolence could our own homes witness to! Secondly, we see here how a man may fall into new forms of sin, and are reminded especially of one of the most distressing facts to be observed in the world, viz., that men in their prime and even in their old age are sometimes overtaken in sins of sensuality from which hitherto they have kept themselves pure. We are very ready to think we know the full extent of wickedness to which we may go; that by certain sins we shall never be much tempted. And in some of our predictions we may be correct; our temperament or our circumstances may absolutely preclude some sins from mastering us. Yet who has made but a slight alteration in his circumstances, added a little to his business, made some new family arrangements, or changed his residence, without being astonished to find how many new sources of evil seem to have been opened within him? While therefore you rejoice over sins defeated, beware of thinking your work is nearly done.

(M. Dods, D. D.)

1. The best and holiest of men upon God's seating them here below, must undertake some honest calling. So Noah is for husbandry.

2. Man's labour and planting must serve God's providence to bring the fruits of the earth unto their due use and end (ver. 20).

3. Feeding or drinking on a man's own labours is a privilege not denied to man.

4. The best of men may be apt to exceed in the use of creature comforts.

5. Wine is a mocker, and may deceive the holiest men that are not watchful (Proverbs 20:1). God hath not spared to discover the worst as the best of his saints (ver. 20).

(1)To humble them.

(2)To warn others.

(3)To glorify grace, that their righteousness is of Him only (ver. 21).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

It is related of a converted Armenian on the Harpoot mission field, that he was a strong temperance man. On one occasion, disputing with a drinker of the native wine, he was met with the rejoinder, "Did not God make grapes?" To this, with native warmth, the Armenian replied: "God made dogs; do you eat them? God made poisons; do you suck them?" While not prepared to argue after this fashion, all must admit the appalling follies of excessive drinking. Thomas Watson says that there is no sin which more defaces God's image than drunkenness. And sadly as it mars and blots the face and form of the body, its deleterious and destructive influences upon the mental powers and moral principles are more distressing. "Alcohol is a good creature of God, and I enjoy it," said a drinker to James Mowatt. To this he replied, "I dare say that rattlesnakes, boa constrictors, and alligators are good creatures of God, but you do not enjoy swallowing them by the half dozen." As Guthrie says, "No doubt, in one sense, it is a creature of God; and so are arsenic, oil of vitriol, and prussic acid. People do not toss off glasses of prussic acid, and call it a creature of God."

Noah, as soon as he could get settled, betook himself to the employment of husbandry; and the first thing he did in this way was to plant a vineyard. So far all was right; man, as we have seen, was formed originally for an active, and not an idle life. Adam was ordered to keep the garden and to dress it; and when fallen, to till the ground from whence he was taken, which now required much labour. Perhaps there is no occupation more free from snares. But in the most lawful employments and enjoyments, we must not reckon ourselves out of danger. It was very lawful for Noah to partake of the fruits of his labour; but Noah sinned in drinking to excess. He might not be aware of the strength of the wine, or his age might render him sooner influenced by it: at any rate, we have reason to conclude from his general character that it was a fault in which he was overtaken. But let us not think lightly of the sin of drunkenness. "Who hath woe; who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine." Times of festivity require a double guard. Neither age nor character are any security in the hour of temptation. Who would have thought that a man who had walked with God, perhaps more than five hundred years, and who had withstood the temptations of a world, should fall alone? This was like a ship which had gone round the world, being overset in sailing into port. What need for watchfulness and prayer! One heedless hour may stain the fairest life, and undo much of the good which we have been doing for a course of years! Drunkenness is a sin which involves in it the breach of the whole law, which requires love to God, our neighbours and ourselves. The first as abusing His mercies; the second as depriving those who are in want of them of necessary support, as well as setting an ill example; and the last as depriving ourselves of reason, self-government, and common decency. It also commonly leads on to other evils. It has been said, and justly, that the name of this sin is Gad — a troop cometh!

(A. Fuller.)

One fine summer evening as the sun was going down, a man was seen trying to make his way through the lanes and crossroads that led to his village home. His unsteady, staggering way of walking showed that he had been drinking; and though he had lived in the village over thirty years, he was now so drunk that it was impossible for him to find his way home. Quite unable to tell where he was, at last he uttered a dreadful oath, and said to a person going by, "I've lost my way. Where am I going?" The man thus addressed was an earnest Christian. He knew the poor drunkard very well, and pitied him greatly. When he heard the inquiry, "Where am I going?" in a quiet, sad, solemn way he answered: "To ruin." The poor staggering man stared at him wildly for a moment, and then murmured, with a groan, "That's so." "Come with me" said the other, kindly, "and I'll take you home." The next day came. The effect of the drink had passed away, but those two little words, tenderly and lovingly spoken to him, did not pass away. "To ruin! to ruin!" he kept whispering to himself. "It's true, I'm going to ruin! Oh, God, help me and save me!" Thus he was stopped on his way to ruin. By earnest prayer to God he sought the grace which made him a true Christian. His feet were established on the rock. It was a rock broad enough to reach that poor, miserable drunkard, and it lifted him up from his wretchedness, and made a useful, happy man of him.

1. As the photographic art will not make the homely beautiful, nor catch a landscape without catching the shadow of deformity as readily as the shadow of beauty; so, says Swing, the historic genius of the Bible gathers up all virtue and vice equally, and transfers it to the record — the one for human as Divine commendation — the other for human as Divine condemnation. And thus it comes to pass that we do not see a Hebrew nation adorned in the gay robes of a modern fresco, but one that sinned against God: a beacon tower of warning to all future nations of the earth that the Merciful and All-gracious will by no means clear the guilty.

2. When the painters of the last century painted the great heroes of that age, they threw upon their subjects the costumes of that day; and now, when in our days their dresses seem ridiculous and create a smile, we rise above the dress — fasten our eye upon the firm-set lips, the chiselled nose and noble forehead, and bless God that we have such portraits of such giants. Just so in the Bible, its great heroes are all represented in the clothes they wore — from Noah, in the cloak of drunkenness, to Peter, in the robe of equivocation: and it is for us to let those garments alone, and admire the matchless contour of their spiritual countenances.

(W. Adamson.)

The early history of the vine cannot be traced with any certainty. It is first introduced to our notice, in the above passage, as the cause of Noah's shameful drunkenness, and as one of the articles of provision hospitably offered by Melchizedek to Abraham. It was, in all probability, a native of the hilly region on the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, and of the Persian province of Ghilan. The tradition of the Jews is that the vine was first planted by God's own hand on the fertile slopes of Hebron. It has been gradually introduced into other countries, and it has been said that the great revolutions of society may be traced in its gradual distribution over the surface of the globe; for wherever man has penetrated, in that spirit of change and activity which precedes or accompanies civilization, he has assisted in the dissemination of this useful plant, much more surely and rapidly than the ordinary agencies of nature. Now, the range of the vine extends from the shores of the New World to the utmost boundaries of the Old; its profitable cultivation in the open air, however, being still confined to a zone about two thousand miles in breadth, and reaching in length from Portugal to India.

(Things Not Generally Known.)

Shem and Japheth took a garment.

1. Piety in children hastens to cover that which impiety discloseth to reproach.

2. Some gracious seed is vouchsafed to the saints for their comfort, as wicked for their grief.

3. Piety to parents will use lawful means to cover their shame.

4. Piety turns its back to the discovery of parents' evils, as unnatural.

5. It is piety in children to cover the infirmities or nakedness of parents. Yet this is no rule for all to hide wilful sinners.

6. Piety turns the face away, and would not willingly see the shame of parents. A sweet pattern.

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

Charity is the prime grace enjoined upon us, and charity covers a multitude of sins. And whatever excuses for exposing others we may make, however we may say it is only a love of truth and fair play that makes us drag to light the infirmities of a man whom others are praising, we may be very sure that if all evil motives were absent, this kind of evil-speaking would cease amoung us. But there is a malignity in sin that leaves its bitter root in us all, and causes us to be glad when those whom we have been regarding as our superiors are reduced to our poor level. And there is a cowardliness in sin which cannot bear to be alone, and eagerly hails every symptom of others being in the same condemnation. Before exposing another, think first whether your own conduct could bear a similar treatment, whether you have never done the thing you desire to conceal, said the thing you would blush to hear repeated, or thought the thought you could not bear another to read. And if you be a Christian, does it not become you to remember what you yourself have learnt of the slipperiness of this world's ways, of your liability to fall, of your sudden exposure to sin from some physical disorder, or some slight mistake which greatly extenuates your sin, but which you could not plead before another? And do you know nothing of the difficulty of conquering one sin that is rooted in your constitution, and the strife that goes on in a man's own soul and in secret though he show little immediate fruit of it in his life before men? Surely, it becomes us to give a man credit for much good resolution and much sore self-denial and endeavour, even when he fails and sins still, because such we know to be our own case, and if we disbelieve in others until they can walk with perfect rectitude, if we condemn them for one or two flaws and blemishes, we shall be tempted to show the same want of charity towards ourselves, and fall at length into that miserable and hopeless condition that believes in no regenerating spirit nor in any holiness attainable by us.

(M. Dods, D. D.)

1. Lettice would quietly watch for her father, and as quietly lead him home, that none of the neighbours might see his shame as a drunkard. With what tenderness she led the reeling form within doors; and when he had flung himself upon his poor bed, how tenderly she covered him, ere she herself retired to rest. She could not bear the thought of friends around knowing that her father lived to drink.

2. Joe Swayne, the street Arab, had been lured to Sunday school by a teacher on her way. In conversation he had mocked over his mother's propensity for drink, and jocosely described her words and ways when she returned to their wretched garret after a deep debauch. At school, God's word taught, and God's grace trained him to think otherwise. Child could not be kinder to his mother than he was. No one ever heard him mention his mother's shame.

(W. Adamson.)

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