The Two Towers: The Subtle Serpent

Grima Wormtongue works his way into the pages of Two Towers and he almost sneaks right past us.  He wormed his way into the lives of the ruling family of Rohan, and very nearly won the war for the side of Saruman…which ultimately would have been a victory for Sauron.

How does something like this happen?  The book suggests a spell of some kind – perhaps Grima channeling the words of Saruman, whose power was that of words.  Whatever it was, Grima managed to control the king of Rohan by driving away his most powerful forces in the Rohirrim, and his most trusted ally in Eomer.  With Theoden’s son dead, Eomer was one of the few voices of reason in a place tainted with the poison of deceit and doubt.  Eowyn, the king’s niece, may have even been an object of Grima’s affection, as Tolkien says he was “watching her under his lids and haunting her steps.”  One foul voice the ears of the brave and true and they can be turned as a mighty ship is turned with but a small rudder.  Once again, Gandalf saves the day as he comes in and clears the floor – ridding Theoden of Grima and Rohan of a spirit of fear.

I think we can all resonate with the plights of both Theoden and Eomer here.  First, Theoden was completely unaware of his error, as the words of sin had laid siege upon the truth in his life.  I only know those times in my own life looking back.  Looking back, I can see times where I was listening to the lies of the Accuser, and in my mind I thought it right to forsake truth and cast off people in my life.   There were times when the lie I believed wasn’t compatible with some of the people in my life, so I let them drift away.  It was even those friends who would have been best to help me defeat the enemy and find victory.  That is the way of the enemy though.  He would have you believe that the ones closest to you are the ones who mean you the most harm.  Taking the analogy another step further, it is our great Friend, Jesus Christ who like no other can drive the enemy away and cleanse our hearts and our minds.  That said, who is it that we kick against?  Who is it that we readily cast away, though he would have us come to him?  We have no hope against the enemy without our Lord Jesus, and with him, we will see that which is true and right.  With Christ, there is no fear, but a love that drives away fear.  Gandalf’s love of all things good drove him to drive away Grima and bring Theoden from a bad place.  Gandalf, a continuing symbol of redemption in all 4 books, brought Theoden back from darkness and into the light.

Next, there are times when we are in the place of Eomer.  I know I’ve been the friend that has been cast off because I didn’t agree with a brother’s lifestyle or choices.  Fortunately, I have many brothers and sisters in the faith whom I can disagree with on the minor things and we can still get along just fine.  However, there are those times when the deceit has become too great for a simple disagreement, and their fall into wrong doctrine or lifestyle causes us to have to part ways.  To be sure, of those few times, it has usually been me making the decision to separate (unlike Eomer).  Those times have been right decisions (at least I think) on my part, but they haven’t been easy, and they haven’t been made without much prayer and counsel.  That doesn’t mean that we stop praying for those people, but there comes a time when our words are no longer valuable to them, and instead of bringing life, they bring the sting of death.  In those times, we pray for the Redeemer to do his work, and when and if redemption is purchased, we accept that person with open arms.

The story ends happily as good ones do.  In this world, we can’t always point to a “happy ending” when it comes to someone going astray.  For whatever reason, it is the Lord’s will to have us walk through both times – times where we are the lost sheep, and times where we are trying to bring it home.  Thanks to Jesus, in the end, fear and lies are driven away, and true and goodness remain.

I'd love to hear your questions and comments!