Genesis 9

* God blesses Noah, and grants flesh for food. (1-3) Blood, and

murder forbidden. (4-7) God's covenant by the rainbow. (8-17)

Noah plants a vineyard, is drunken and mocked by Ham. (18-23)

Noah curses Canaan, blesses Shem, prays for Japheth, His death.

(24-29)

1-3 The blessing of God is the cause of our doing well. On him

we depend, to him we should be thankful. Let us not forget the

advantage and pleasure we have from the labour of beasts, and

which their flesh affords. Nor ought we to be less thankful for

the security we enjoy from the savage and hurtful beasts,

through the fear of man which God has fixed deep in them. We see

the fulfilment of this promise every day, and on every side.

This grant of the animals for food fully warrants the use of

them, but not the abuse of them by gluttony, still less by

cruelty. We ought not to pain them needlessly whilst they live,

nor when we take away their lives.
4-7 The main reason of forbidding the eating of blood,

doubtless was because the shedding of blood in sacrifices was to

keep the worshippers in mind of the great atonement; yet it

seems intended also to check cruelty, lest men, being used to

shed and feed upon the blood of animals, should grow unfeeling

to them, and be less shocked at the idea of shedding human

blood. Man must not take away his own life. Our lives are God's,

and we must only give them up when he pleases. If we in any way

hasten our own death, we are accountable to God for it. When God

requires the life of a man from him that took it away unjustly,

the murderer cannot render that, and therefore must render his

own instead. One time or other, in this world or in the next,

God will discover murders, and punish those murders which are

beyond man's power to punish. But there are those who are

ministers of God to protect the innocent, by being a terror to

evil-doers, and they must not bear the sword in vain, #Ro 13:4|.

Wilful murder ought always to be punished with death. To this

law there is a reason added. Such remains of God's image are

still upon fallen man, that he who unjustly kills a man, defaces

the image of God, and does dishonour to him.
8-17 As the old world was ruined, to be a monument of justice,

so this world remains to this day a monument of mercy. But sin,

that drowned the old world, will burn this. Articles of

agreement among men are sealed, that what is promised may be the

more solemn, and the doing of what is covenanted the more sure

to mutual satisfaction. The seal of this covenant was the

rainbow, which, it is likely, was seen in the clouds before, but

was never a seal of the covenant till now it was made so. The

rainbow appears when we have most reason to fear the rain

prevailing; God then shows this seal of the promise, that it

shall not prevail. The thicker the cloud, the brighter the bow

in the cloud. Thus, as threatening afflictions abound,

encouraging consolations much more abound. The rainbow is the

reflection of the beams of the sun shining upon or through the

drops of rain: all the glory of the seals of the covenant are

derived from Christ, the Sun of righteousness. And he will shed

a glory on the tears of his saints. A bow speaks terror, but

this has neither string nor arrow; and a bow alone will do

little hurt. It is a bow, but it is directed upward, not toward

the earth; for the seals of the covenant were intended to

comfort, not to terrify. As God looks upon the bow, that he may

remember the covenant, so should we, that we may be mindful of

the covenant with faith and thankfulness. Without revelation

this gracious assurance could not be known; and without faith it

can be of no use to us; and thus it is as to the still greater

dangers to which all are exposed, and as to the new covenant

with its blessings.
18-23 The drunkenness of Noah is recorded in the Bible, with

that fairness which is found only in the Scripture, as a case

and proof of human weakness and imperfection, even though he may

have been surprised into the sin; and to show that the best of

men cannot stand upright, unless they depend upon Divine grace,

and are upheld thereby. Ham appears to have been a bad man, and

probably rejoiced to find his father in an unbecoming situation.

It was said of Noah, that he was perfect in his generations, ch.

#6:9|; but this is meant of sincerity, not of a sinless

perfection. Noah, who had kept sober in drunken company, is now

drunk in sober company. Let him that thinks he stands, take heed

lest he fall. We have need to be very careful when we use God's

good creatures plentifully, lest we use them to excess, #Lu

21:34|. The consequence of Noah's sin was shame. Observe here

the great evil of the sin of drunkenness. It discovers men; what

infirmities they have, they betray when they are drunk; and

secrets are then easily got out of them. Drunken porters keep

open gates. It disgraces men, and exposes them to contempt. As

it shows them, so it shames them. Men say and do that when

drunken, which, when sober, they would blush to think of. Notice

the care of Shem and Japheth to cover their father's shame.

There is a mantle of love to be thrown over the faults of all,

#1Pe 4:8|. Beside that, there is a robe of reverence to be

thrown over the faults of parents and other superiors. The

blessing of God attends on those who honour their parents, and

his curse lights especially on those who dishonour them.
24-29 Noah declares a curse on Canaan, the son of Ham; perhaps

this grandson of his was more guilty than the rest. A servant of

servants, that is, The meanest and most despicable servant,

shall he be, even to his brethren. This certainly points at the

victories in after-times obtained by Israel over the Canaanites,

by which they were put to the sword, or brought to pay tribute.

The whole continent of Africa was peopled mostly by the

descendants of Ham; and for how many ages have the better parts

of that country lain under the dominion of the Romans, then of

the Saracens, and now of the Turks! In what wickedness,

ignorance, barbarity, slavery, and misery most of the

inhabitants live! And of the poor negroes, how many every year

are sold and bought, like beasts in the market, and conveyed

from one quarter of the world to do the work of beasts in

another! But this in no way excuses the covetousness and

barbarity of those who enrich themselves with the product of

their sweat and blood. God has not commanded us to enslave

negroes; and, without doubt, he will severely punish all such

cruel wrongs. The fulfilment of this prophecy, which contains

almost a history of the world, frees Noah from the suspicion of

having uttered it from personal anger. It fully proves that the

Holy Spirit took occasion from Ham's offence to reveal his

secret purposes. "Blessed be the Lord God of Shem." The church

should be built up and continued in the posterity of Shem; of

him came the Jews, who were, for a great while, the only

professing people God had in the world. Christ, who was the Lord

God, in his human nature should descend from Shem; for of him,

as concerning the flesh, Christ came. Noah also blesses Japheth,

and, in him, the isles of the gentiles that were peopled by his

seed. It speaks of the conversion of the gentiles, and the

bringing of them into the church. We may read it, "God shall

persuade Japheth, and being persuaded, he shall dwell in the

tents of Shem." Jews and gentiles shall be united together in

the gospel fold; both shall be one in Christ. Noah lived to see

two worlds; but being an heir of the righteousness which is by

faith, he now rests in hope, waiting to see a better than

either.
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