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The Crimson Worm (Psalm 22)

The Crimson Worm (Psalm 22)

The Bible’s first book tells us God saw everything he created, and behold, it was very good. You probably first think of big and exciting creations like the spectacular sun, majestic mountains, loud lions, or the mighty Mississippi River when you hear about creation. God uses all his creatures to direct us to his power and glory. But even tiny things that can go unnoticed are very good creations as well. Some living things, even ones we consider insignificant, can point us to the person and work of Jesus in surprising and amazing ways.

The crimson worm is one of these lowly but unique creations. It’s a bit different than the worms you find in your own backyard because it’s actually an insect with a shell and six little legs. About seven millimeters long, the crimson worm is barely longer than the width of a pencil eraser. You might call it minimal, minor, miniature, or minuscule. Maybe even gross. But God created the crimson worm to live in a specific area, the land of Israel, and have a life cycle that points us to one event: Jesus’ saving death on the cross.

When a mother crimson worm is ready to lay her eggs, she finds her way toward a specific type of oak tree. She then makes the difficult ascent up the side of that tree, knowing that she will never come back down again. She’s come there to give life to her children and then give up her own. Once she reaches her spot and secures herself against the wood, her shell turns into a hard, crimson shelter. It’s under this covering where her eggs hatch. For three days, she provides protection for her children. She also provides life for three days as the babies feed on her body until she dies. Once the mother dies, she produces a crimson dye that stains the tree and the children underneath her. The babies are now crimson worms for the rest of their lives.

After three more days, something fascinating happens to the mother crimson worm. Her tail pulls into her head, forming a body shaped like a heart. Although the crimson stain remains on the tree, the mother worm is no longer crimson. She is now a snowy, white, waxy substance that disintegrates into falling flakes. Wow! Can you see how this worm points us to Jesus?

There is probably no psalm that prophesies of and points us to Jesus’ suffering and death as much as Psalm 22. The whole psalm takes us on a vivid journey through the hours of Christ’s suffering on the cross. There he hung, surrounded by the Gentile dogs who pierced his hands and feet (v. 16). They stared at him (v. 17). They shook their heads at him and mocked him (v. 7). They cast lots for his garment (v. 18). You can envision Jesus on that cross, exhausted and dehydrated (v. 15). Who can ever forget Jesus’ cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” (v. 1)?

But then there is this verse: “I am a worm, and no man” (v. 6). Jesus, a worm? A lowly, disgusting, vile insect? Something that lives in the dirt, the darkness beneath the earth? Oh yes. Now you know that Jesus didn’t become just any worm. But a crimson worm.

Just as the mother crimson worm goes to the oak tree voluntarily to give her life for her children, so Jesus offered himself on the tree of the cross for your sins, according to the will of God (Gal. 1:4). Just as the crimson worm bleeds out a scarlet dye in the death she endures for her children, so Jesus poured out his blood in dying for you and all of those whom the Father gave unto him (John 17:9). Just as the baby crimson worms are stained with the crimson dye that comes from their mother, so are you washed from your sins and covered in Jesus’ own precious blood (Rev. 1:5). And just like the mother crimson worm transformed into snow-whiteness three days after her death, so also Jesus was transformed in his body and rose again after three days—all that so you can be clothed for all eternity with his righteousness and be as clean and white as snow (19:8).

So, enjoy all aspects of God’s glorious creation. Not just big things like hungry hippopotamuses, regal redwoods, or Pike’s Peak. Look around and notice the lowly and insignificant parts of God’s creation that are also very good. Like worms. See what God might be trying to show you through them.

“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” (Isa. 1:18).


Sing together Psalter 47:1
My God, My God, I cry to Thee;
O why hast Thou forsaken Me?
Afar from Me, Thou dost not heed,
Though day and night for help I plead.

You've just finished a sample chapter of Journey Through the Psalms, a thirty-day devotional for ages 9-13 by Mike Velthouse and Erinn Kuiper. Like what you read? You can order a copy of the book here or by clicking the image above. Plus, visit on Friday, June 28, 2024, to enter your name in a giveaway for 1 of 10 free copies!

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