Grima: Cat Got Your Tongue? Part II
What do you make of Grima Wormtongue? When you first saw him on screen or read about him in the pages of Tolkien’s work, what did you think?
I admit it, when I first saw him, I saw nothing more than a desperate soul. Then that is possibly precisely what he was. The kingdom of Rohan, while its size is something I am not entirely clear on, appears to be mostly made up of farmers and horsemen. Measure that up against Sauron’s army and what do you have? Sadly, the proud kingdom of noble horsemen likely adds up to about the equivalent of an ant underneath a shoe.
So it is no wonder that Grima would betray his land, country men, or even king. If you were faced with such immeasurable odds, what do you think you would have done?
The Downfall In Walking The Path of Deception
It may seem strange, but I pity Grima Wormtongue. Gripped by fear, doubt, as well as his own selfish ambition he allowed himself to become blinded to hope. He no longer was able to have faith in the hearts or strength of men. All adviser unto the king could see was weakness disadvantages and desires unfulfilled. It is likely for those same reasons that his deception proved to be his downfall.
In lying to King Theoden in regards of the pressing orc threat as well as the growing power of Sauruman and Sauron, the lies began to pile up. Therein lies one of the dangers in living in deception: when a lie is told a person becomes bound to that same lie until the truth becomes known.
What seems like a harmless, little white lie is something that must be held to as if it were indeed a truth. This means more deception must be practiced in order for a falsehood to appear true. This, in Wormtongue’s case, became a full fledged careful navigation through a battlefield of truth. For every time a sword or bow was drawn to cast a clear cut of truth through his deception, Grima had to compound his already growing pile of lies with yet another.
We can see this in his tricking the king to Banish Eomer. Getting close to the very heart of the problem and uncovering much of Grima’s falsehoods earned him the adviser’s scorn. It was only when these lies were confronted with a total onslaught of truth that Grima lost his ground. As he had done Eomer, Grima found himself too being removed from his position and home. Leaving him to flee into a miserable life of exile among the growing hordes in Isengard.
Judas Iscariot also had to face the truth of what he did. When he did, the cost came all too high. Only after Jesus’ arrest and conviction did Judas see the error of his ways. When the truth of Jesus’ identity became clear along with his role in it, the 12 apostle became riddled with guilt. When he pleaded with the Pharisees to take back the coin that they had given him, they laughed.
Distraught with grief, the disciple hung himself.
Wormtongue’s end was no less pretty. Ensnared by the lies he had forged in order to deceive Theoden, when given an opportunity to repent…he nearly took it. However the courage he seemed to have lacked to stand against Saruman and Sauron transforms into an accusing, blind rage. Maybe he blamed Saruman for his failure. Perhaps he was bitter because despite all his efforts, there was no rewards. There was only the bitter taste of defeat and vile taste of insults from those who were supposed to now be his allies.
Whatever it was, one thing is for sure…. neither Judas Iscariot nor Grima Wormtongue walked away unchanged by the deceptive lives they had lived or the lies that they had told. Both, in fact, met their ends as a result of the deceptive webs they wove.
Matthew 27:1-10 New International Version (NIV)
Judas Hangs Himself
27 Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. 2 So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor. 3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” 5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. 6 The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners.8 That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10 and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”
What Is Grima Wormtongue’s Lesson?
Grima’s sad tale and ill begotten role in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is summed up rather poetically by Sarah Arthur. She writes:
The truth is never so harmful as the consequences of deceit.
What Does The Bible Tell Us About Deceit?
2 Timothy 3:12-13 New International Version (NIV)
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse,deceiving and being deceived.
Jeremiah 7:3-8New International Version (NIV)
3 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” 5 If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, 6 if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, 7 then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. 8 But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.