Abandon or Abide


I once left a worship service at church not liking a certain facet of our time together. Perturbed by it, I flippantly expressed my criticism to a friend. He, too, expressed his own grievances with the way we had worshipped that morning. Neither of our expressed critiques was God-given; they were only our preferences. On the ride home from church, God quickened my spirit about my criticism. He pointed out that not only had I abandoned him and his ways in that moment, but I had also invited a fellow believer to sin as a result.

  • Think of a time you abandoned God and his ways. What was the result?


18 The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.

20 Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said,

“Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”

26 He also said,

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant.
27 May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.”

28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 All the days of Noah were 950 years, and he died.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. What was the setting of this story (vss. 18-20)? What happened from Noah’s abuse of God’s provision from the land (vs. 21)? What did Noah’s lack of restraint invite from his sons?
  2. How did Ham shame Noah and what was the result (vss. 22, 24-25)?
  3. What was the result of Shem and Japheth’s honoring of their father (vss. 26-27)?
  4. Why did Ham’s moral abandonment lead to Noah’s prophecy for Ham’s son, Canaan? What was the lesson to the Israelites as Moses wrote this in their history? (Note: The Canaanites, descendants of Canaan, were known for sexual immorality when Joshua and the Israelites conquered the Promised Land many, many years later.)
  5. Are there any ways that you, like Noah and Ham, are abandoning God’s best for you by deliberately choosing to sin? How is your behavior inviting others to do the same? What are you enslaved to as a result of abandoning God’s best?


Though defeated in the flood, evil was not destroyed. In Noah’s foolishness and Ham’s disrespect, we see evil’s continued effect on society as people abandon God and his ways. Dishonoring God results in shame, promises enslavement to sin, and ultimately leads to his judgment. But abiding in him results in honor, promises freedom from sin, and leads us to his reward. Our choice to abandon or abide not only impacts us, our families, and our communities, but also the generations after us. Abiding in God benefits God’s mission of redemption; abandoning him only hinders it.

  • Ask God to show you any ways you’ve abandoned him and his desires.
  • Praise him for his grace and power to help you abide in him.