Yes you read the title correctly. A few days ago at Daily Encouragement, Stephen Weber shared memories of driving the garbage truck on his Bible College campus. This is the second half of the article, you can read the whole piece at their site where it appeared at Stephen and Brooksyne’s site under the title For Such A Worm As I.
“How then can a mortal be righteous before God? How can one born of woman be pure? If even the moon is not bright and the stars are not pure in His eyes, how much less a mortal, who is but a maggot—a human being, who is only a worm!” (Job 25:4-6). “But I am a worm and not a man” (Psalm 22:6). “What a wretched man I am!” (Romans 7:24a).
Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
…I specifically recall emptying the dumpsters behind the cafeteria. As I can still vividly recall, especially during hotter weather, the dumpsters would have a lot of crawling maggots; tiny white worms that fed on the decaying food. It was a very unpleasant sight to say the least!
At that time I was pondering God’s love for the fallen race and considered what it would be like to send my precious child to live among the “maggots”. Well, like most illustrations, this one has some deficiencies but it sure has caused me to marvel in God’s far-reaching love. Some may find this particular illustration distasteful or offensive. But actually the Scripture uses this same imagery in our daily texts.
Bildad, one of Job’s friends, asks a question that is theologically sound in light of the rest of Scripture that teaches about our innermost need for God due to our sin nature: “How then can a mortal be righteous before God? How can one born of woman be pure? If even the moon is not bright and the stars are not pure in his eyes, how much less a mortal, who is but a maggot—a human being, who is only a worm!”
Isaac Watts likely had this verse in mind along with our second text when he wrote the personalized phrase, “such a worm as I”. In using this image he was illustrating a theological concept known as total depravity. This doctrine runs so contrary to the self-esteem emphasis of our generation but we do well to recognize the awful extent of sin and our only hope exists in God’s redemption through Christ.
Paul, in what many see as a description regarding his state without Christ, declares, ”What a wretched man I am!” (Surely he’d be required to attend a class for positive self-imagery today.) But immediately following this he asks and answers his own question, “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24b,25)
Matthew Henry commenting on Psalm 22, which is considered a Messianic Psalm writes, “What little reason has man to be proud, and what great reason to be humble! So weak and impotent, and so easily crushed, and therefore a very unequal match for Almighty God. Shall man be such a fool as to contend with his Maker, who can tread him to pieces more easily than we can a worm? … Let us therefore wonder at God’s condescension in taking such worms as we are into covenant and communion with Himself, especially at the condescension of the Son of God, in emptying Himself so far as to say, ‘I am a worm, and no man’.”
Although Isaac Watts ends the first stanza of his hymn with this question, “Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?” the hymn goes on to declare that we have victory due to Christ’s reconciliation. In a refrain written nearly 200 years later, by Ralph E. Hudson in 1885, we exultantly sing the chorus:At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!