‘I am a worm’ is a statement from Psalm 22 and has been attributed to Jesus Christ as He hung on Calvary. Did this mean He was nothing more than a humble earth worm, even though He was the Son of God? Jesus taught heavenly concepts through parables, using everyday items. ‘I am a worm’ is exactly that – a parable with an amazing heavenly concept.
King David wrote Psalm 22 as a lament about his personal situation in the face of attacks from his enemies. However, this psalm is a definitive prophecy about what would happen in the crucifixion on the Cross of Calvary, a 1000 years later.
Crucifixion did not even exist at the time of the writing of the 22nd Psalm. It most likely originated first with the Assyrians and Babylonians. The Persians used it systematically in the 6th century BC. In the 4th century Alexander the Great introduced it to the eastern Mediterranean nations. The Phoenicians then introduced it to Rome in the 3rd century BC. This punishment was not abolished until the 4th century CE.
I Am a Worm
What did the psalmist mean when he used the term “I am a Worm”? A statement that is highly significant in a very emotional psalm.
In the Hebrew there are two words for worm. Remez means maggot, decay and corruption. However, the body of the Lord Jesus Christ did not undergo decay. The other word Tola, means scarlet, giving the statement an entirely different meaning.
In the Tabernacle of Moses, the colour scarlet featured large. The Gate, Door and Veil were created from white linen, sewn with expensive blue, purple and scarlet thread. These were the entrances to the three areas of the Tabernacle and point to Jesus’ statement, “I am the way, the truth and the life”, John 14:6.
Note how many of these colours were featured in the recent coronation of King Charles.
The white linen represented the purity of a sinless Christ, having been born of a virgin, Isaiah 7:14. Blue, made from marine snails, represented the heavenly nature of the Son of God, John 11: 27. Even the demons recognized Him in this role, Mark 3:11. The colour blue points to the fact that He alone is the Way to the Heavenly Father, John 16:23.
The Purple was also made from the same snail, was a special colour used only by the highest dignitaries of the land. It represented Christ’s royal standing as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, Revelation 17:14. Matthew follows the genealogy of Christ down to Joseph, through David’s son, Solomon. This proved that Jesus had the genealogical right to sit on the throne of David.
Being born of a virgin, Jesus was not subject to the curse that was placed on David’s line when it reached Conish. None of David’s following descendants would prosper and be allowed to sit on the throne of David until the Messiah. Purple then represents royalty, high position and Truth.
The scarlet represents the Life, for blood is the life-giving force, and the ultimate sacrifice, Leviticus 17:14. A theme that runs throughout the entire bible from Genesis to Revelation.
The Source of Scarlet
The source of the scarlet, or Shani in Hebrew, was a tiny red, or crimson worm, the Kermes echinatus. This is a parasite found in abundance on the evergreen Kermes oak trees in the mountains of Israel and other Mediterranean mountains. There is no evidence that the worms cause the trees any harm.
The Shani dye was highly sought after and used for religious rituals. It was also an expensive and luxury item worn by the wealthy. Scarlet represented wealth, power, and status.
The woman of Proverbs 31 is a parable of the true church and believers of Christ. All her household is clothed in scarlet. This is reference to Isaiah 1:18. ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow’. Having been cleansed by the redeeming blood of the Lamb of God, slain before the foundation of the world, Revelation 13:8.
The Great Harlot of Babylon, opposed to all that is godly, is dressed in purple and scarlet, Revelation 17:1-6. Satan is the great counterfeiter and can only copy what God does. He defames all that is good and holy. Satan will be the instigator of the Anti-Christ in the end of days. Yet even this will form part of God’s eternal plan, to bring Israel back to Himself.
Life Cycle of Kermes echinatuss
As the female worm moults, her limb movements degenerate. She has no wings, or eyes. She attaches herself to the trunk of an oak tree in such a way that she cannot be removed without damaging the tree.
The female has a maxilliped, a special appendage for feeding. She sucks the sap from the host plant. She is only 3–7mm long and 2-4mm wide. The female lays thousands of eggs beneath the protection of her body.
Once the egg-laying is complete her skin becomes highly sclerotized, forming a shell which has a greyish-brown camouflage. The mother produces the bright red dye at the peak of her adult scale, which only lasts for no more than one month.
Babies Change Colour
The babies are white when they hatch and for three days proceed to eat their mother alive. The dying mother explodes, spraying the colour-fast dye all over everything around her, including the oak tree. This turns her babies permanently red.
The mother’s remains turn white as she dies and become waxlike, known as coccoid scale. This is used as shellac and is highly prized in the preservation of wood. It also used in medicine that regulates the heart.
The larvae draw nourishment from the sap of the oak, before weaving a cocoon. They have legs and antennae and migrate and settle on a host tree and spend summer and winter in a deep sleep. In the spring they enter the spawning stage.
The males undergo a full metamorphosis over a two-week period. The red coloured, winged male emerges from the cocoon, measuring around 1.5mm long. He doesn’t stop to eat. His one mission is to find the female and fertilise her before he dies.
I Am a Worm
So, to the term, ‘I am a Worm’. The psalmist was not referring to a humble earth worm, but the highly valued scarlet coloured Kermes echinatus. Both male and female give their life so that their dependents will thrive. It is a miracle that something so small can feature so large.
This is a beautiful parable about the truth of Jesus the Messiah. He suffered and died that whosoever may have eternal life, John 3:15. For those who believe, His sinless blood cleanses us of all sin, Matt 26:26. What a miracle. The great I Am is referred to as a worm.
At the Last Supper Jesus instituted what is commonly called the communion. Believers partake symbolically of the flesh and body of the One who died for them.
Jesus then went on to publicly use the same words a bridegroom says at a wedding. “I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom,” Matthew 26:27.
Wendy Tendys, Doctor of Divinity, is a freelance writer who enjoys researching out a topic and sharing words of encouragement.
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