As I came to verse 6 in my study of Psalm 22, I was very excited to find a parallel to Christ and the cross. It seemed especially poignant to me as I studied tonight, on this eve of Resurrection Day.
Psalm 22:6, “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.”
We know that much of Psalm 22 is prophetic to Christ and His suffering on the cross. Some scholars say He was meditating on Psalm 22 as He suffered for our sin, and that is why He quotes from it on the cross. I think this is certainly a possibility!
While Jesus may be calling Himself a worm to signify the low point to which He had stooped, lower even than becoming a man, this worm has a definite picture for us! The Hebrew word used here for worm is not the primary word for “worm” in the Old Testament. In fact, it is usually translated scarlet, because this female worm was crushed to form a scarlet dye. The reference to “worm” indicating specifically the female of a certain species of worm. This description from Henry Morris may help to explain why:
When the female of the scarlet worm species was ready to give birth to her young, she would attach her body to the trunk of a tree, fixing herself so firmly and permanently that she would never leave again. The eggs deposited beneath her body were thus protected until the larvae were hatched and able to enter their own life cycle. As the mother died, the crimson fluid stained her body and the surrounding wood. From the dead bodies of such female scarlet worms, the commercial scarlet dyes of antiquity were extracted. What a picture this gives of Christ, dying on the tree, shedding his precious blood that he might ‘bring many sons unto glory’ (Heb. 2:10)! He died for us, that we might live through him! Psalm 22:6 describes such a worm and gives us this picture of Christ. (cf. Isaiah 1:18)” (Henry Morris. Biblical Basis for Modern Science, Baker Book House, 1985, p.73)
Truly this is a great picture/parallel of Christ shedding His crimson blood to wash our sins away!
Isaiah 1:18 – Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.