Summary: The three sons—the three branches of the human race—now became the focus of Scripture so in this prophecy you see the three people groups that remain unto this day.
Genesis 9:25-29 (KJV)
25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
28 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years.
29 And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.
Our text takes us to the time following one of the saddest pictures in the Word of God. Noah the prophet of God, a man who was described by God as being righteous, gives in to a temptation of the devil. Perhaps, like Elijah after a great victory over the prophets of Baal came under an attack of the enemy in the form of depression and anxiety, Noah for what ever reason, gave in to a temptation to drink and it was in this time of drunkenness that Ham, his youngest son, came into the tent and looked upon Noah’s nakedness.
When Noah awoke from his drunken stupor, he noticed something different, perhaps the way the covering was thrown over him. Apparently, he asked his sons about the matter, and the older sons told him what had happened. Noah’s heart, as any godly father’s heart would be, was broken...
• broken because of what he had done to God.
• broken because his sin had led his son to commit a most grievous sin.
But more than Noah’s heart being broken, God’s heart was broken, broken because His servant had fallen into sin and tragically affected his testimony and family so much. God convicted Noah, and Noah repented. How do we know this? Because God moved upon Noah with the spirit of prophecy and led Noah to predict the future of the human race. Remember, Noah’s three sons stood at the head of the three branches of the human race. The three sons—the three branches of the human race—now became the focus of Scripture so in this prophecy you see the three people groups that remain unto this day.
I. Cursed be Canaan (Canaan is the seed of Ham) — When Noah discovered that Ham had been indiscreet, (to look upon the nakedness of another) he uttered a curse on Canaan and a blessing on Shem and Japheth. In the biblical material the patriarchal pronouncement generally concerns the destiny of the sons with regard to the fertility of the ground, the fertility of the family and relationships between family members. It is also important to notice that most scholars believe the sin of Ham was sexual perversion; “The nations of Canaan were known to be the most sexually perverted, morally depraved, and bloodthirsty peoples of all ancient history. Their depravity is mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 13:13; Genesis 15:16; Genesis 18:20; Genesis 19:1-11; Numbers 25:1-3; Judges 19:14-25; 1 Kings 14:24; 1 Kings 15:12; 1 Kings 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7 It was because of the depravity of the Canaanites that God gave their land back to the Jews and ordered their extermination (Deut. 7:1-5; Deut. 20:10-15; Joshua 9:24)”. (wilmingtons bible handbook) Canaan was not singled out for the curse because he was the youngest son of Ham, nor was it a random selection. Apparently Noah saw in the youngest son of Ham the same tendencies and perversions that had been evidenced in Ham. When Noah had fully recovered from the effects of his drunkenness, he uttered this curse against Canaan. Noah could not have cursed his son, for he and his brothers, along with Noah, had been the objects of a blessing in Genesis 9:1. Neither Noah nor anyone else could reverse such a blessing with a curse. Balaam the son of Beor learned this the hard way in Numbers 22-24.
Still, there may well have been an element of “mirroring” punishment here, especially if Canaan was to exhibit the out-workings of the tendencies already present in Ham’s failure to cover Noah’s nakedness. Finally, it is a matter of historical record that the Canaanites were notoriously deviant in their sexual behavior. Almost everywhere the archaeologist’s spade has dug in that part of the world there have been fertility symbols accompanying texts explicit enough to make many a modern pornographic dealer seem a mere beginner in the trade of deviant sexuality. Sodom left its name for the vice these people practiced. Even the Romans, so depraved in their own practices, were shocked by the behavior of the Phoenicians at the colony of Carthage (the last vestige of the Canaanite race).
II. Blessed be the Lord God of Shem—rather, "Blessed of Jehovah, my God, be Shem,"—an intimation that the descendants of Shem should be peculiarly honored and of them, concerning the flesh, Christ came. There was the prediction about Shem: he was to be the father of a people whose God is to be blessed (Genesis 9:26). Note that God is blessed here, not Shem, not directly. Shem’s blessing is all wrapped up in God Himself. Two things are meant by this blessing: