1999-09-06 - Being a Worm
“Fear not, you worm Jacob, and you men of Israel; I will help you, says the Lord, and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 41:14
David refers to himself as a worm in Psalm 22:7, “But I am a worm, and not a man, A reproach of men, and despised by the people.” So what of it? Is it so great a leap to think of ourselves as worms? Shouldn’t this damage my fragile self-image? Shouldn’t I view myself as a Priest, or at least as the Child of God, or the brother/sister of Christ? How can I view myself as a worm, as David did, and retain any shred of dignity?
I hope in the next couple of paragraphs to convince you to view yourself as a worm. I hope that you will read on, and give me a chance to convince you. It is common to have high views of ourselves and our faith. The Scripture encourages this. We are Children of God (Romans 8:16). We are Heirs of God (Romans 8:17). We are Priests (Revelation 1:6). We are Vessels of honor (2 Timothy 2:21), Sons of God (Romans 8:14), and the Salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). But we are also worms and a healthy understanding of both the exalted nature of being in Christ, taken with the true and low state of our existence if left to ourselves, is a necessary balance for us to have.
A worm has about as many enemies as any creature. When it is on the ground, it has as many enemies as there are feet around it. Besides the accidental crushings that a worm must fear, there are those creatures that prey upon worms. When I grew up in New England one of the first signs of spring, after a long winter, was the sight of a robin, and robins, if you have ever seen one, love to suck down worms like a child sucks in a long strand of spaghetti.
Worms are vulnerable, and so is the child of God. But the child of God is not alone as the worm is. Our passage in Isaiah says, “worm Jacob … I will help you … ”. The Lord knows us by name. We may be like a worm. We may be vulnerable and subject to temptations of all sorts. We may have enemies on all sides, but we have a promise also. We have a supporting phrase, “I will help you.” And so the passage in Isaiah is a wonderful, complete thought, “Fear not, worm Jacob … I will help you, says the Lord.”
The Lord, He knows our frailty, He knows that we are but worms. But He knows us by name, “worm Jacob”, and He promises us assistance, personally. It is fine to be a worm. It is fine to think our ourselves as worms, because this does not mean that we are of little significance. It does not mean that we are of a low existence, or inconsequential in the eyes of God. Rather it means that we are dependent upon God for His help and His mercy. And He has promised it to us. For that reason, yes, we are but worms; the Bible says so, and we rest in the tender providence and mercy of our protector, God.
“Really great men have a curious feeling that the greatness is not in them, but through them.” John Ruskin
Soli Deo Gloria,