Sometime after Noah and his family returned to dry land following the flood we are introduced to an important relational principle through Noah’s oldest son, Shem, and his youngest son, Japheth. The setting is Noah’s tent where he has become “uncovered” due to his drunkenness. Noah’s middle son, Ham, looked on his father’s nakedness and proceeded to tell his brothers about their father’s condition.
What was Shem and Japheth’s response? Did they also choose to dishonor their father as Ham had done by going into his tent and looking at him exposed in his nakedness? Genesis 9:23 tells us that their response was quite different from their brother’s.
“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.”
We can find a lesson in this story. Which response will we choose when we observe something “uncovered” in our spouses’ character?
Will we be as Ham, dishonoring our spouse by pointing out to them, or others, their weakness? Or, will we choose to cover them in their weakness? To “cover” does not mean to ignore, nor does it mean to consent to what may be wrong behavior.
To “cover” our spouse means three things. First, we do not use our tongue as an instrument to ridicule or condemn them. Second, we do use our tongue as an instrument of encouragement as we lovingly accept them in their imperfect state. Third, it also means that we use our tongue as an instrument to cover them in prayer.
Think about it; isn’t this what we want them to do for us? Jesus is our model—He loves and accepts every believer—even when He does not agree with what we do.
God’s love covers our weakness and sin, and His love through us can cover our spouse in their weakness and sin.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
(Covering Your Spouse by Anne Rizzo)