As Thorin and Company come back into Erebor, something happens to them. Their adventure is almost over (they do not know of Smaug’s fate) and they are weary from their long and difficult travels. Their encounter with the treasure changes this.
The change is particularly significant with Thorin. Others find him counting his money frequently, and the prospect of having to share one piece of gold turn a good dwarf to a bad one. When the dwarves learn of Smaug’s fate, they become even greedier. They refuse to help the people of Esgaroth in their time of need, and willingly choose possible starvation instead of sharing.
I think Tolkien presents us with this same pattern several times in the book. You have Gollum, who values the ring above all things. It drives him to kill, steal, and destroy. There is Bilbo, who cannot stop thinking about bacon and eggs and handkerchiefs. Money and treasure drive the actions of the dwarves. The Mirkwood Elves value security and solitude and Beorn values his animals. There is the idea that there are certain things that make these groups or individuals tick, and they will make whatever sacrifice they must in order to preserve that which is important to them. The correlation is very present between Gollum and Thorin I think, especially when you consider that Bilbo stole each person’s most prized position. Their reaction was similar in that they both wanted Bilbo dead. The story of Gollum and Thorin end differently however, with Gollum chasing his prize to his death, and Thorin finally realizing the folly his prize drove him to.
Again, Tolkien speaks volumes into our own situation as a people who live in sin. We all can say we have those things in our lives that push us. For some it may be money. For others, the desire for a perfect family drives them. When you lose those things, or something threatens them, you lose all hope, or you express some other deep emotion. For both Gollum and Thorin, they became murderous when they discovered Bilbo’s theft. Thorin, a respected heir to the dwarven throne, became as low as a creature that slinked beneath the mountains eating goblins and eyeless fish.
Only in death does Thorin realize the folly of his ways, and he gives us his most famous quote, “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” There is some truth to that, but rather than food, Christ is where our treasure should be? It is in Christ alone that we find satisfaction and contentment. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Running after gold (money), the perfect spouse, the best job, the nicest house will only earn you heartache. You might find what you are looking forward, but in the end, you are only left with something that will not last. In Christ, you have someone that will be with you for all eternity.