Choosing Bondage: King Theoden

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Choosing Bondage: King Theoden 

“Now lord,” said Gandalf, “look out upon your land! Breathe the free air again!”

– Gandalf to King Theoden, Book Three, The Two Towers, Chapter Six –

Rohan’s king, when we first see him, is rather pitiful. Hunched over, hair wild, beard uncombed, pasty skinned, and eyes clouded over King Theoden looked more the part of a rotting corpse or hideous beast. If that is not unsettling enough, the once proud king no longer had the power to think or speak for himself.

King Theoden, quite literally, was a puppet on a string!

Who Is King Theoden?

Theoden was the king of Rohan. This much we know. What else though does Tolkien reveal to us about him?

He was a son.  – Theoden was a king, and likely once a prince and heir himself. It was likely his father’s passing, as is tradition, that brought him to rule Rohan.

He was a brother. – Inside the film, The Two Towers, we see the character of Eowyn call upon Theoden as her uncle. Both her and her brother, Eomer, had taken residence within his royal court. This again meant misfortune. For Theoden’s sibling too would have had to pass away.

He was a husband. – Theoden was once married. The marriage too was one that yielded him a son. However, his wife died in the act of childbearing.

King Theoden had a family surrounded by death. Death does seem to have crept into and lingered over the house of Theoden’s family. Imagine the weight of the burdens. In the face of so much loss….so much death…it is possible that perhaps Theoden came to fear very much the prospect of losing those dear to him. Maybe he even feared not being able to live up to the reputation of his fore-bearers.

More On King Theoden

Gripped With Fear 

Theoden found himself enslaved by one of the darkest powers imaginable…

Fear Is 

  • an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by expectation or awareness of danger
  • concern about what may happen
  • an instance of fear or a state marked by fear

This is a feeling you and I know all too well. It is that nervous sensation we get in the pit of our stomachs before taking a test that can tempt us to cheat or fake illness to ensure a good grade or give us another day without worry in regards of our performance. It is that same nerve wrecking feeling we get when we are faced with other certainties.  Fear is that horrible feeling of doubt, dread, or insecurity that tends to make us assume or prepare for the worst. That same preparation can also be our greatest vice much as it was for Theoden.

Fear conquered King Theoden. In doing so the ruler of Rohan suffered greatly. It cost him his only son and heir.

 

It also nearly cost him his kingdom!

Sarah Arthur reminds us of the importance of resisting succumbing to our fears. She does this by sharing a parable Jesus taught His disciples in  the book of Matthew.

Matthew 25:14-30 New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Bags of Gold

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Theoden’s Lesson

Fear can drive us into a panic that brings us to act out irrationally. Likewise, fear can also cripple us so that we do nothing.

Sarah Arthur puts it eloquently as she writes:

Whatever You Fear Will Have Mastery Over You.

What The Bible Says About Fear 

Psalm 46[a]

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth.[b] A song.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 

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