Who is the worm?

There is an old hymn I sung last night in church. It goes, “Alas, and did my Savior bleed, and did my Sovereign die? Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?” This is the original anyway. Many modern renditions quietly replace “such a worm as I” with “such a sinner such as I.” True, all Christ-followers agree we’re sinners. But are we as low-down as to be called “worms” too? I’ve read or heard a few Christians say that we should not call ourselves “worms.” It is degrading, because people are made in the image of God. What’s more, as Christians, we have been redeemed and God calls us “saints.” They say we’re not worms anymore, if we even ever were.

Before going further, please read this carefully:

“But I am a worm, and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. Everyone who sees me mocks me; they sneer and shake their heads, saying ‘He relies on the Lord, let Him rescue him, let the Lord deliver him since He takes pleasure in him.’ . . . My strength is dried up like baked clay; my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you put me in the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded me, a band of evildoers has closed in on me, they pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people look and stare at me. They divided my garments among themselves and cast lots for my clothing.” (Psalm 22.6-8, 15-18 Holman Christian Standard Bible).

If you haven’t guessed yet, this is a prophecy of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Psalm 22 reflects Jesus’ point of view as He hung on the cross, being mocked and subject to sarcastic jabs as He is humiliated in excruciating pain from being beaten and having his hands and feet nailed to wooden beams. He did this to satisfy the penalty for our many sins.

The Supreme Being, God Almighty, became a human, named Jesus. Jesus means “Yahweh [the personal name for God] is salvation.” Jesus called Himself the “Son of God,” but also the “Son of Man.” God becoming human is stooping down quite low in itself. Yes, humans are made in God’s image, but God is still infinitely more than us. For God to manifest Himself into a finite being is an amazing act of love. But He goes yet further in His humiliation, and from the cross He says He is “a worm, not a man.”

From God, to man, to worm. From the highest of the high to the lowest of the low. The Bible says that God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corin. 5.21). Jesus became the shameful and despicable as an innocent man, thus making atonement for our sins and everyone who is in Him therefore no longer sinners, but righteous. “Since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5.1 HCSB). God then glorifies Himself and and receives the eternal love of His followers through His own humility.

I am a sinner. I am the lowest of the low because of my sin. I deserve to be a worm forever in hell in unquenchable fire. Yes, my Savior did bleed for such a worm as I; not for me to stay a worm, but to have Christ’s righteousness and live eternally with Him in total awe of His glorious grace.

I’m sorry, this question is lost on me now. Who is the worm?



  1. Matt @ The Church of No People

    Hey Paul, thanks for commenting on my blog! I always enjoy getting insights from readers. About that hymn, I know I’ve sung it many times (though not recently.) I’ve never figured out who the worm is. Hope to see you around again soon.

  2. Jordan

    Certainly man is the chief of sinners and worthy of God’s anger and hatred (Ps. 5:5). But always balance your anthropology with the facts from verses such as Psalm 8:5-8. Man is chief of sinners, yet also the chief of creatures, the consumating acheivement of creation week. There is a tension to the dichotomy that Christians hold to regarding our view of man, but we can only remain true by holding to both sides of this dichotomy, and holding both sides strongly.

    • Paul Bishop

      True that! Man being made in the image of God shouldn’t be taken lightly, even if it is a marred image. That is the point of Christ’s redemption, becoming a man who became a worm to restore man to fellowship with God.

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