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Devotion: Righteous Excess

Righteous Excess

January 3, 2019 | Genesis 9:18–28

A prominent pastor faces accusations of sexual impropriety. A Christian college president admits to financial misdeeds. A ministry leader is revealed to be verbally abusive to the staff. Behind each new revelation are broken lives and damaged trust, magnifying the toll of the sin.

We might be surprised to read that one of Noah’s first recorded acts after the Flood was to get drunk. His actions seem out of character for someone whom Scripture describes as righteous (Ezek. 14:14, 20; 2 Peter 2:5). Likely significant time elapsed between Noah’s departure from the ark and his night of excessive drinking. He had to begin farming and plant the vineyard (v. 20). He had to harvest the grapes and then wait for them to ferment. The original Hebrew language of this text suggests that this was Noah’s first foray into farming, and some have wondered whether Noah’s drunkenness was perhaps accidental.

The focus of the passage is actually less on Noah’s failure and more on the response of his three sons. Ham was first to see his father lying naked in a drunken stupor. He told his brothers, and they covered their father while averting their eyes (vv. 22–23). Most scholars believe that Noah’s curse against Canaan, Ham’s son (10:6), implies that Ham’s response to what he saw was either contemptuous or lustful. Canaan seems to have shared his father’s taste for that which was impure. Noah’s words were also prophetic, pointing forward in history to Canaanite sin and God’s judgment upon it through His people (see Lev. 18:3).

Noah was the most righteous man of his generation—but he was not perfect. Even his heroic faith did not prevent him from falling into devastating sin. Jesus is the only one who will not disappoint us.


Even the most mature Christian leaders are vulnerable to temptation. Pray that God will uphold them today. If you’ve been disappointed or hurt by a leader, ask the Lord to lead you to peace and healing. Thank Him that your trust in Jesus will never be misplaced or abused, and He will always care for you.


In India, Christian persecution continues to spread and intensify. Pray with Indian Christians like Preeti* and her husband who were tied up and beaten because they refused to participate in a Hindu ritual.

*Names changed to protect identities

Today in the Word is a publication of Moody Bible Institute.