April 14, 2022

Cover Their Shame

Written by Tripp Prince

Covering shame is an unwavering commitment to do for others what they are at times unable to do for themselves.”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – April 14, 2022

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. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both 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. Genesis 9:20-23, NKJV

When we think of Noah, we almost universally place him on an ark, surrounded by animals and his God-fearing family. We choose to celebrate and define him by this moment of faithfulness, honoring his witness to the mercy and goodness of God, rather than dwelling upon his faults and shortcomings. For example, rarely if ever is Noah identified as the winemaker who got so drunk on his own wine that it left him naked and passed out on the floor. And yet, this too is part of Noah’s story.

How do we reconcile the virtue and vice that lives within the hearts of those we love and respect? Whether it be heroes from the Bible, modern day Christian leaders, or our own family members, there are men and women to whom we look for guidance and honor for their lives of sacrifice and service. And yet, broken and frail as they are, these people will also make decisions, either in public or private, that lead to their shame and disgrace. 

When they encounter the shame of their father’s poor decisions, the sons of Noah in Genesis 9 present us with two possible responses. On the one hand, Ham sees his father’s nakedness and further exposes him, spreading his shame to others. This is a universal temptation. When those we love make self-harming decisions and fail to live lives of holy moderation, a wave of emotions crashes upon us. Anger, disappointment, confusion, and embarrassment all rush in, leaving us confused and disoriented. In such moments, it is a human inclination to distance oneself from the source of shame. We do not want to be associated with their folly, and so we write the headline and control the narrative to ensure our innocence, even if it means their sin is put on display and exposed to all.

On the other hand, Shem and Japheth offer a vision of how to honor our elders in their moments of shame. When made aware of their father’s drunkenness, their immediate response is to draw near in compassion, not focusing on his failures but upon his need for restoration and renewal. They refuse to look upon him, not as a form of denial or avoidance, but to dignify his humanity, doing for him what he is unable to do for himself.

Covering our loved one’s shame is not the same thing as masking over a problem or pretending it doesn’t exist. Instead, it is an unwavering commitment to do for others what they are at times unable to do for themselves. It is the refusal to allow their worst moments to be the defining reality of their lives, and to the extent we are able, to restore them to the dignity that is theirs by right as a beloved child of God.


Father, give me the love and compassion of Shem and Japheth, a love that does not exploit the shortcomings of others but moves towards them in love, helping them recover that which was lost through their sin and weakness. Amen.


Whose shame might the Lord be inviting you to cover in love, reminding them of their dignity and true identity in Christ?

Related Reading

Deuteronomy 5:16; Romans 12:10; Philippians 2:3

Worship Resource

Shane & Shane: His Mercy Is More


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